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Found 44 results

  1. The weather was dismal, and the Panthers passing game wasn't far behind. Today, the Carolina Panthers just could not put it together offensively. The day started like any other, Cam Newton gave Offensive Line Coach John Matsko a fist bump to start off the day. But from the very first drills, you could tell how this day was going to go. Simple connections from Cam Newton to Kelvin Benjamin in passing drills misfired. When those misfire.... you are in for a long day. Things did not get easier for the offense once the defense took the stage. Josh Norman has a solid day today, breaking up multiple passes and performing very well against Kelvin Benjamin. This is good news for the Panthers, as they will face taller receivers from time to time this season. This is how the entire day went. Passes were more often off than not. And when the passes were on target, often times they were broken up by a hungry defender. Melvin White made a very nice break on a ball intended for Brenton Bersin and received much praise from the defensive coaching staff for his efforts. Sometimes the ball never made it into the picture frame, probably not a good thing. Corey Brown was able to get behind Josh Norman for what could have been a touchdown, but could only watch as the ball landed well in front of him. Colin Jones, not wanting to be left out, also got in on the act. Of course, not all of the passes were miscues. Devin Funchess did show signs of life over the middle with a nice grab from Cam Newton. Funchess took a shot from safety Kurt Coleman, but administered more of a blow than he received. Funchess continued on with the play as Coleman lay on the ground. While an interesting play to watch, I doubt the same result would have occurred if pads were on and contact allowed. Overall, the Panthers offense today seemed like it was either jumping ahead to practice against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow, or ready to head back to Charlotte. The intensity wasn't there. The focus wasn't there. If they play this was tomorrow, they may get embarrassed on their own practice field against Miami. I don't think that will happen. Look for the Panthers offense to rebound and use today's performance as motivation. Until then....
  2. The weather was dismal, and the Panthers passing game wasn't far behind. Today, the Carolina Panthers just could not put it together offensively. The day started like any other, Cam Newton gave Offensive Line Coach John Matsko a fist bump to start off the day. But from the very first drills, you could tell how this day was going to go. Simple connections from Cam Newton to Kelvin Benjamin in passing drills misfired. When those misfire.... you are in for a long day. Things did not get easier for the offense once the defense took the stage. Josh Norman has a solid day today, breaking up multiple passes and performing very well against Kelvin Benjamin. This is good news for the Panthers, as they will face taller receivers from time to time this season. This is how the entire day went. Passes were more often off than not. And when the passes were on target, often times they were broken up by a hungry defender. Melvin White made a very nice break on a ball intended for Brenton Bersin and received much praise from the defensive coaching staff for his efforts. Sometimes the ball never made it into the picture frame, probably not a good thing. Corey Brown was able to get behind Josh Norman for what could have been a touchdown, but could only watch as the ball landed well in front of him. Colin Jones, not wanting to be left out, also got in on the act. Of course, not all of the passes were miscues. Devin Funchess did show signs of life over the middle with a nice grab from Cam Newton. Funchess took a shot from safety Kurt Coleman, but administered more of a blow than he received. Funchess continued on with the play as Coleman lay on the ground. While an interesting play to watch, I doubt the same result would have occurred if pads were on and contact allowed. Overall, the Panthers offense today seemed like it was either jumping ahead to practice against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow, or ready to head back to Charlotte. The intensity wasn't there. The focus wasn't there. If they play this was tomorrow, they may get embarrassed on their own practice field against Miami. I don't think that will happen. Look for the Panthers offense to rebound and use today's performance as motivation. Until then.... View full article
  3. Play of the Day - Ted Ginn

    Ted Ginn and Josh Norman have been going at every day in Panthers training camp. Today, Ted Ginn had the upper hand. On a fly route, Ginn was able to get just enough separation to make a fantastic catch from a Cam Newton pass for 30 yards. Josh Norman really could not have played better defense. He was in Ginn's hip pocket the entire play, just where he needed to be. Ginn just made a fantastic play that defenses will give up from time to time. After the catch, Ginn held the ball high signaling he still had the ball. When he got up, Ginn spun the ball in a "Steve Smith-esque" type move, letting Norman subtly know he had been bested. This type of play is exactly what was missing from the Panthers offense for the majority of last season. Just the threat of having Ted Ginn out wide should open up things for Cam a great deal.
  4. Ted Ginn and Josh Norman have been going at every day in Panthers training camp. Today, Ted Ginn had the upper hand. On a fly route, Ginn was able to get just enough separation to make a fantastic catch from a Cam Newton pass for 30 yards. Josh Norman really could not have played better defense. He was in Ginn's hip pocket the entire play, just where he needed to be. Ginn just made a fantastic play that defenses will give up from time to time. After the catch, Ginn held the ball high signaling he still had the ball. When he got up, Ginn spun the ball in a "Steve Smith-esque" type move, letting Norman subtly know he had been bested. This type of play is exactly what was missing from the Panthers offense for the majority of last season. Just the threat of having Ted Ginn out wide should open up things for Cam a great deal. View full article
  5. Here's a thread for today's training camp tweets, etc. I can be online much of the next 2 hours until 10:30 Eastern, but then will be offline most of the day until late afternoon.
  6. Day 4 of the Carolina Panthers Training Camp is in the books. With a heat index of 109 in Spartanburg, the Panthers still managed to have a spirited practice that yielded some good things. Thomas Davis was taking a veterans day off. However, he still managed to act as an additional coach of sorts, helping rookie linebacker David Mayo at times. This did not keep Mayo from performing his rookie tasts, such as fetching helmets for the veteran players. The Carolina Panthers coaches were especially energetic and vocal today. This could be due to the return of head coach Ron Rivera. Sean McDermott kept a close eye on his defensive unit and was not shy in pointing out where they were lacking. Dave Gettleman kept a watchful eye over practice, and was joined by aspiring GM but current Panthers safety Roman Harper at times. Ted Ginn continues to impress in camp. When asked today if he was still the fastest guy on the field, he answered in the affirmative. The Panthers offense struggled early today, mainly due to poor offensive line play. Cam Newton scrambled out of the pocket more than once, something Panthers fans have gotten quite used to seeing. Newton was visibly upset for a brief moment, expressing to his offense they would need to pick up their game. This may be redundant, but Kelvin Benjamin continues to make plays. At some point I may stop reporting this, as you can probably just take it as a given. Gamecocks product Damiere Byrd had his best day of camp so far. Damiere is proving himself not only a deep threat that the team desperately needs, but also a weapon on the end arounds. His end around run today was the prettiest of camp so far. Brenton Bersin continues to field second string punts, and guess what.... he looks pretty good. Many people are hard on Bersin for last year's punt return performance. They forget, however, that Bersin had zero punt return reps in practices up until he was asked to field them in a live game. Punt returning is 100% about repetition, without it no player would do well. Michael Oher improved from his lackluster performance yesterday, although he did have help at times. As many have pointed out, if the Panthers can get Oher to just the level of serviceable, it will be an upgrade over last season. Jordan Todman was fighting a stomach bug but still practiced in between trips to the sideline to vomit and hydrate. You have to admire his resolve. Todman is not a lock to make this roster, and he knows every snap counts. Mike Remmers beard. Thats all. Today's Climbers: - Damiere Byrd - As stated earlier, his best performance of camp. - Cameron Artis-Payne - CAP had the prettiest touchdown scamper of camp so far. He also appears to be improving in pass protection during second team drills. So far, so good for this rookie. - Mario Addison - Addison may be the most improved defensive player on the roster. I am very impressed what he has brought so far. He appears to be well ahead of Kony Ealy at this point. - Lee Ward - Caught a nice ball out in the flat, made some killer blocks in pass protection.
  7. Day 4 of the Carolina Panthers Training Camp is in the books. With a heat index of 109 in Spartanburg, the Panthers still managed to have a spirited practice that yielded some good things. Thomas Davis was taking a veterans day off. However, he still managed to act as an additional coach of sorts, helping rookie linebacker David Mayo at times. This did not keep Mayo from performing his rookie tasts, such as fetching helmets for the veteran players. The Carolina Panthers coaches were especially energetic and vocal today. This could be due to the return of head coach Ron Rivera. Sean McDermott kept a close eye on his defensive unit and was not shy in pointing out where they were lacking. Dave Gettleman kept a watchful eye over practice, and was joined by aspiring GM but current Panthers safety Roman Harper at times. Ted Ginn continues to impress in camp. When asked today if he was still the fastest guy on the field, he answered in the affirmative. The Panthers offense struggled early today, mainly due to poor offensive line play. Cam Newton scrambled out of the pocket more than once, something Panthers fans have gotten quite used to seeing. Newton was visibly upset for a brief moment, expressing to his offense they would need to pick up their game. This may be redundant, but Kelvin Benjamin continues to make plays. At some point I may stop reporting this, as you can probably just take it as a given. Gamecocks product Damiere Byrd had his best day of camp so far. Damiere is proving himself not only a deep threat that the team desperately needs, but also a weapon on the end arounds. His end around run today was the prettiest of camp so far. Brenton Bersin continues to field second string punts, and guess what.... he looks pretty good. Many people are hard on Bersin for last year's punt return performance. They forget, however, that Bersin had zero punt return reps in practices up until he was asked to field them in a live game. Punt returning is 100% about repetition, without it no player would do well. Michael Oher improved from his lackluster performance yesterday, although he did have help at times. As many have pointed out, if the Panthers can get Oher to just the level of serviceable, it will be an upgrade over last season. Jordan Todman was fighting a stomach bug but still practiced in between trips to the sideline to vomit and hydrate. You have to admire his resolve. Todman is not a lock to make this roster, and he knows every snap counts. Mike Remmers beard. Thats all. Today's Climbers: - Damiere Byrd - As stated earlier, his best performance of camp. - Cameron Artis-Payne - CAP had the prettiest touchdown scamper of camp so far. He also appears to be improving in pass protection during second team drills. So far, so good for this rookie. - Mario Addison - Addison may be the most improved defensive player on the roster. I am very impressed what he has brought so far. He appears to be well ahead of Kony Ealy at this point. - Lee Ward - Caught a nice ball out in the flat, made some killer blocks in pass protection. View full article
  8. The Carolina Panthers Training Camp last season introduced us to guys like Andrew Norwell and Corey Brown. Two undrafted free agents who ended up making major contributions to the playoff run of 2015. So who will be the sleepers this season? Well, here are my best pre-camp guesses..... 1. Damiere Byrd - WR South Carolina While small in stature, Byrd has the physical gifts that the Panthers need, namely pure speed. During OTA's, Byrd connected with the Panthers backup quarterbacks for multiple long bomb touchdowns. This local kid has what it takes to shine in camp this year if given the opportunity. Given the uncertain future of Stephen Hill and his recent transgression, Byrd may just get that chance. 2. Lee Ward - FB Stanford I love me some Lee Ward. A bruising throwback fullback who punished his opponent as he lays waste. While not the most glamorous or highlight generating position, the pure blocking fullback is something I would love to see added to the Panthers arsenal. He would also aid in protecting Cam Newton given the unknown skill level of the Panthers 2015 left tackle Michael Oher. 3. Dean Marlowe - S James Madison You haven't read much about Marlowe until now, but that could quickly change. If there is one position on the Panthers roster that an immediate impact could be made, it would be Safety. Marlowe saw plenty of snaps in OTA's and looked sharp. If he can also contribute in Special Teams he may be able to carve out a roster spot. Not an easy accomplishment for an undrafted free agent on this Panthers squad. So there are the top 3 young guys I am hoping can make an impact. Who are yours?
  9. The Carolina Panthers Training Camp last season introduced us to guys like Andrew Norwell and Corey Brown. Two undrafted free agents who ended up making major contributions to the playoff run of 2015. So who will be the sleepers this season? Well, here are my best pre-camp guesses..... 1. Damiere Byrd - WR South Carolina While small in stature, Byrd has the physical gifts that the Panthers need, namely pure speed. During OTA's, Byrd connected with the Panthers backup quarterbacks for multiple long bomb touchdowns. This local kid has what it takes to shine in camp this year if given the opportunity. Given the uncertain future of Stephen Hill and his recent transgression, Byrd may just get that chance. 2. Lee Ward - FB Stanford I love me some Lee Ward. A bruising throwback fullback who punished his opponent as he lays waste. While not the most glamorous or highlight generating position, the pure blocking fullback is something I would love to see added to the Panthers arsenal. He would also aid in protecting Cam Newton given the unknown skill level of the Panthers 2015 left tackle Michael Oher. 3. Dean Marlowe - S James Madison You haven't read much about Marlowe until now, but that could quickly change. If there is one position on the Panthers roster that an immediate impact could be made, it would be Safety. Marlowe saw plenty of snaps in OTA's and looked sharp. If he can also contribute in Special Teams he may be able to carve out a roster spot. Not an easy accomplishment for an undrafted free agent on this Panthers squad. So there are the top 3 young guys I am hoping can make an impact. Who are yours? View full article
  10. Shaq Thompson Making Plays

    Shaq Thompson has officially arrived at Panthers training camp. While being largely absent the first two practices, he started to come into his own on today's third practice. During 7 on 7 drills, Thompson made a speedy break on a Cam Newton pass intended for Greg Olsen. Thompson batted the ball now, marking his first official play made in Panthers training camp. One of Thompson's primary responsibilities will be to cover talented tight ends like Jimmy Graham (now in Seattle). Getting camp experience against pro bowler Greg Olsen can only accelerate his learning and adjusting to the pro game. Thompson continued to impress throughout the day. Another play that sticks out in my mind is a very quick gap stop, halting Fozzy Whitaker's progress. The Carolina Panthers had issues with plugging the correct gap in run defense for a good portion of last season. Shaq Thompson is having more thrown at him than most defensive rookies. He is learning what is probably the most complicated position on the defensive side of the field. While other rookies can be thrown into the mix relatively quickly, Thompson will require more film room time in addition to playing time. If today's performance is any indication, Thompson may be a quick study.
  11. Shaq Thompson has officially arrived at Panthers training camp. While being largely absent the first two practices, he started to come into his own on today's third practice. During 7 on 7 drills, Thompson made a speedy break on a Cam Newton pass intended for Greg Olsen. Thompson batted the ball now, marking his first official play made in Panthers training camp. One of Thompson's primary responsibilities will be to cover talented tight ends like Jimmy Graham (now in Seattle). Getting camp experience against pro bowler Greg Olsen can only accelerate his learning and adjusting to the pro game. Thompson continued to impress throughout the day. Another play that sticks out in my mind is a very quick gap stop, halting Fozzy Whitaker's progress. The Carolina Panthers had issues with plugging the correct gap in run defense for a good portion of last season. Shaq Thompson is having more thrown at him than most defensive rookies. He is learning what is probably the most complicated position on the defensive side of the field. While other rookies can be thrown into the mix relatively quickly, Thompson will require more film room time in addition to playing time. If today's performance is any indication, Thompson may be a quick study. View full article
  12. Ok all, here's a thread to post tweets from today's training camp. Note: Although I'm starting this thread, I'm headed away from the computer soon, and won't be able to post many tweets until later this afternoon. [Mods can you pin this up top? Thanks]
  13. On the way to the practice field, I noticed one player had a little something extra tucked in his sock. I respect that. Old School. Kurt Coleman was out on the practice field early, catching balls from the tire machine. Coleman has looked solid over the weekend and could be a starting day 1 strong safety. KK Short was on a bike again, unfortunately. Star and Charles were working on some of the finer hand details of the position before the initial whistle blew. Younger players need to really pay attention to this. These guys are not fighting for a roster spot, yet they are out there early working on the minutia of the position. Cam had another decent day today, although the protection he was getting was not ideal. ... He was not wearing a superhero shirt today, sadly. David Mayo looks the part of a middle linebacker. He has been fairly quiet in camp, however. Fozzy Whitaker continues to get second string reps behind Jonathan Stewart. Whitaker looks like a solid option as a chance of pace back, but could get pushed by Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher as camp continues. Corey Brown has improved since a lackluster start of camp. He is still getting more first team reps than Ginn. Thomas Davis was sure to let Jonathan Stewart know that it was him that tagged his fanny on a running play. Stewart laughed as Davis informed him. The veterans on the team spend a lot of time in between series discussing the plays and the schemes. Pictured are three guys you will not find talking about vacation activities or the night's plans while on the practice field. These guys are 100% football in the moment. Other Notes: - Nate Chandler took most if not all of the second string left tackle reps. - Overall, the defense had the upper hand today. I counted 6 "would be" sacks on Cam Newton. Many times the pass went on to be completed, but in an actual game situation it would have been a downed QB or a Cam Newton scramble. - Mike Remmers looked solid on the right side of the line. My concern over that position is starting to go away. Solid protection against Charles Johnson. - Defensive tackle Kyle Love has made plays in this camp. The Panthers could possibly opt for him over Colin Cole. - Colin Jones made another great play on a Cam Newton pass today, nearly intercepting it. Jones has amazing closing speed that will keep in him in the mix for playing time. Additional Articles From Today's Practice Oher Struggles Early Shaq Thompson Making Plays Also check out Thomas Davis' Visor
  14. On the way to the practice field, I noticed one player had a little something extra tucked in his sock. I respect that. Old School. Kurt Coleman was out on the practice field early, catching balls from the tire machine. Coleman has looked solid over the weekend and could be a starting day 1 strong safety. KK Short was on a bike again, unfortunately. Star and Charles were working on some of the finer hand details of the position before the initial whistle blew. Younger players need to really pay attention to this. These guys are not fighting for a roster spot, yet they are out there early working on the minutia of the position. Cam had another decent day today, although the protection he was getting was not ideal. ... He was not wearing a superhero shirt today, sadly. David Mayo looks the part of a middle linebacker. He has been fairly quiet in camp, however. Fozzy Whitaker continues to get second string reps behind Jonathan Stewart. Whitaker looks like a solid option as a chance of pace back, but could get pushed by Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher as camp continues. Corey Brown has improved since a lackluster start of camp. He is still getting more first team reps than Ginn. Thomas Davis was sure to let Jonathan Stewart know that it was him that tagged his fanny on a running play. Stewart laughed as Davis informed him. The veterans on the team spend a lot of time in between series discussing the plays and the schemes. Pictured are three guys you will not find talking about vacation activities or the night's plans while on the practice field. These guys are 100% football in the moment. Other Notes: - Nate Chandler took most if not all of the second string left tackle reps. - Overall, the defense had the upper hand today. I counted 6 "would be" sacks on Cam Newton. Many times the pass went on to be completed, but in an actual game situation it would have been a downed QB or a Cam Newton scramble. - Mike Remmers looked solid on the right side of the line. My concern over that position is starting to go away. Solid protection against Charles Johnson. - Defensive tackle Kyle Love has made plays in this camp. The Panthers could possibly opt for him over Colin Cole. - Colin Jones made another great play on a Cam Newton pass today, nearly intercepting it. Jones has amazing closing speed that will keep in him in the mix for playing time. Additional Articles From Today's Practice Oher Struggles Early Shaq Thompson Making Plays Also check out Thomas Davis' Visor View full article
  15. Last season, then rookie Kelvin Benjamin was selected to get in special reps with Cam Newton away from the other players. Typically, they would go over end zone routes or fine tune a few things here or there. Well, that trend is happening again this year, but they have added one more participant. Devin Funchess During Saturday's training camp session, Kelvin and Devin joined Cam Newton on the opposite field to work together away from the rest of the team. They caught extra passes from Cam Newton while running various routes, and then spoke to Newton about them. Small adjustments were made, and the routes run again. During one of the drills, Funchess had a chance to show off his vertical while going for an overthrown ball. I found it fairly impressive. I realize this may not seem like much, but it could be early signs of a Kelvin/Devin duo taking over the receiving corps. Stay tuned.
  16. Last season, then rookie Kelvin Benjamin was selected to get in special reps with Cam Newton away from the other players. Typically, they would go over end zone routes or fine tune a few things here or there. Well, that trend is happening again this year, but they have added one more participant. Devin Funchess During Saturday's training camp session, Kelvin and Devin joined Cam Newton on the opposite field to work together away from the rest of the team. They caught extra passes from Cam Newton while running various routes, and then spoke to Newton about them. Small adjustments were made, and the routes run again. During one of the drills, Funchess had a chance to show off his vertical while going for an overthrown ball. I found it fairly impressive. I realize this may not seem like much, but it could be early signs of a Kelvin/Devin duo taking over the receiving corps. Stay tuned. View full article
  17. Carolina Panthers training camp 2015 kicked off on Friday night to a good sized crowd, anxious to see what their 2015 squad had to offer. To help get the crowd excited, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton had a contest of sorts. Which player could get the crowd louder. Tolbert may have won, in my opinion. Cam Newton continued to look very sharp throughout the day. I remarked in OTAs that this may be the best I have ever seen him. One can only hope this development continues when the pads are on. Newton and new left tackle Michael Oher have a special hand shake they do before each series. It is important that these two develop a trust quickly if the Panthers offense hopes to improve on last season. Colin Jones could possibly be the most improved defensive player of the offseason. He may not let go of that buffalo package roster spot as quickly as some think. Jones is the fastest defensive player on the team and a real asset against those offenses that like to spread the ball around. Stephen Hill practiced and improved on a lackluster June performance. My only concern remains his propensity to catch the ball with his body and not look it into his hands. He has a tendency to take his eye off the ball more than any other receiver I have photographed. Ted Ginn, on the other hand, nearly always is looking the ball into his hands.... observe... Fozzy Whitaker showed the explosiveness that the fans grew to love last season. He has some new competition this year in Jordan Todman and rookies Artis-Payne and Wegher, but Fozzy does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon . Even though he is on the sideline, Cam Newton doesn't take a break. He continues to go through mental reps that helps him prepare. Cam's growth as a player has as much to do with what he does on the sidelines as what he does under center. Brenton Bersin made a few nice catches much to the delight of the Wofford crowd. "Here we go Bersin, here we go" was the chant of the day. Josh Norman had a mixed day. While he did may a couple of nice plays on the ball.... He also let Jerricho Cotchery get behind him for a long completion from Cam Newton (would have been a touchdown.). Ted Ginn was first team punt returns, and quickly impressed. As he bolted up field and to the sideline, he received from praise from new Panthers safety Kurt Coleman who exclaimed "Oh, he is fast". Speaking of Coleman, I liked what I saw out of him on Friday. He had an interception and a really nice break up on a Cam Newton to Ed Dickson connection. Note the ball coming out below.... Former Panthers safety Chris Harris is back in a Panthers uniform, this time coaching up the defensive backs as an assistant. He and Peanut Tillman spent a lot of time going over the finer points. Damiere Byrd got in a few snaps late. While he was able to get behind the defenders, he was then slowed by contact that probably would not have drawn a flag. Byrd needs to learn the finer points of playing through such contact on a pro level. He has time, and I feel the Panthers are impressed enough with him to keep him in the mix and see if he improves. Overall, it was a solid first practice. I was happy with the tempo and enthusiasm. The Panthers are looking less like a young team in search of an identity and more like a veteran team on a mission.
  18. Carolina Panthers training camp 2015 kicked off on Friday night to a good sized crowd, anxious to see what their 2015 squad had to offer. To help get the crowd excited, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton had a contest of sorts. Which player could get the crowd louder. Tolbert may have won, in my opinion. Cam Newton continued to look very sharp throughout the day. I remarked in OTAs that this may be the best I have ever seen him. One can only hope this development continues when the pads are on. Newton and new left tackle Michael Oher have a special hand shake they do before each series. It is important that these two develop a trust quickly if the Panthers offense hopes to improve on last season. Colin Jones could possibly be the most improved defensive player of the offseason. He may not let go of that buffalo package roster spot as quickly as some think. Jones is the fastest defensive player on the team and a real asset against those offenses that like to spread the ball around. Stephen Hill practiced and improved on a lackluster June performance. My only concern remains his propensity to catch the ball with his body and not look it into his hands. He has a tendency to take his eye off the ball more than any other receiver I have photographed. Ted Ginn, on the other hand, nearly always is looking the ball into his hands.... observe... Fozzy Whitaker showed the explosiveness that the fans grew to love last season. He has some new competition this year in Jordan Todman and rookies Artis-Payne and Wegher, but Fozzy does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon . Even though he is on the sideline, Cam Newton doesn't take a break. He continues to go through mental reps that helps him prepare. Cam's growth as a player has as much to do with what he does on the sidelines as what he does under center. Brenton Bersin made a few nice catches much to the delight of the Wofford crowd. "Here we go Bersin, here we go" was the chant of the day. Josh Norman had a mixed day. While he did may a couple of nice plays on the ball.... He also let Jerricho Cotchery get behind him for a long completion from Cam Newton (would have been a touchdown.). Ted Ginn was first team punt returns, and quickly impressed. As he bolted up field and to the sideline, he received from praise from new Panthers safety Kurt Coleman who exclaimed "Oh, he is fast". Speaking of Coleman, I liked what I saw out of him on Friday. He had an interception and a really nice break up on a Cam Newton to Ed Dickson connection. Note the ball coming out below.... Former Panthers safety Chris Harris is back in a Panthers uniform, this time coaching up the defensive backs as an assistant. He and Peanut Tillman spent a lot of time going over the finer points. Damiere Byrd got in a few snaps late. While he was able to get behind the defenders, he was then slowed by contact that probably would not have drawn a flag. Byrd needs to learn the finer points of playing through such contact on a pro level. He has time, and I feel the Panthers are impressed enough with him to keep him in the mix and see if he improves. Overall, it was a solid first practice. I was happy with the tempo and enthusiasm. The Panthers are looking less like a young team in search of an identity and more like a veteran team on a mission. View full article
  19. Kelvin Shines in Camp Debut

    Over the past several weeks, Kelvin Benjamin had to live with the first bit of real negative press about him concerning his weight. Of course, we all remember in June when Ron Rivera remarked he was 10 pounds overweight, which played a role in his hamstring pull. Well, if the first training camp practice of 2015 was any indication, Kelvin Benjamin has turned that criticism into motivation and made a statement saying exactly that. Kelvin made multiple catches from Cam Newton, finding a nice soft spot in the zone defenses and making the grab. While being covered by a variety of players, from Boston to Byndom to Norman, Benjamin made play after play, and did it with style. Towards the end of practice, Kelvin hauled in a long bomb form Cam Newton in which he out bodied and out jumped Carrington Byndom for what would have been a first down in the red zone. I think it is safe to say we can all officially put to rest the concerns over Kelvin's conditioning (which I never fully bought into in the first place.) Kelvin has picked up exactly where he left off last season, namely the most dangerous receiver on the team.
  20. Over the past several weeks, Kelvin Benjamin had to live with the first bit of real negative press about him concerning his weight. Of course, we all remember in June when Ron Rivera remarked he was 10 pounds overweight, which played a role in his hamstring pull. Well, if the first training camp practice of 2015 was any indication, Kelvin Benjamin has turned that criticism into motivation and made a statement saying exactly that. View full article
  21. Sometimes a photo is a snapshot of a moment, but sometimes it is a glimpse into the future. Here are 10 photos of the 2014 Carolina Panthers Training camp that have somewhat of a different meaning today. Cam Newton struggles to get situated as he is protected by Amini Silatolu and Nate Chandler. Silatolu and Chandler both ended the season on IR. Both were replaced by players who out performed them. (Remmers and Norwell) Then Special Teams Assistant Bruce Dehaven has been promoted to Special Teams Coordinator, replacing Richard Rodgers. I remember being impressed with Dehaven's demeanor throughout camp. He is hands on and vocal. Bene Benwikere stands confidently in front of Charles Godrey and poses. Benwikere finished the season as one of the highest rated corners in the league as a rookie. Godfrey was released after failing to perform at nickel adequately. Jericho Cotchery signals towards Brenton Bersin. Berin rose above many others in camp and contributed last season with key first down catches. Bersin did struggle in punt returns, but in all fairness he should have never been put in that position. Deangelo Williams embraces Greg Hardy. At the time, no one knew Hardy would only play a single game in 2014. Both Hardy and Deangelo are unlikely to be on the Panthers roster in 2015. Cam Newton receives encouragement from Ken Dorsey after a rough practice. Cam Newton had a rough year, literally. He was roughed up more than any other season due to inadequate line play early. How he is feeling in this photo must have continued well into the 2014 season. Derek Anderson and Kelvin Benjamin develop a chemistry. Without this chemistry, the Panthers could have lost at least one game this season (in Tampa). Getting the backup QB snaps with the starting wide outs is never a bad move. The Panthers face a March without a left tackle. If they allow Byron Bell to become a free agent, there are left with literally no one that could adequately protect Cam Newton's blind side. Cam Newton celebrates a touchdown with rookie Corey Brown. Brown emerged as the Panthers only deep threat this season and provided two much needed touchdowns late in the season. Luke Kuechly intercepts a Cam Newton pass. Kuechly's interception against the Bucs sealed the game and kept the Panthers in the division title hunt. Without it, the Panthers could possibly have missed the playoffs entirely. There you have it, 10 photos from training camp 2014 that have a different meaning today. As always, I will be covering the action through the lens again in 2015 and providing even more extended bonus content to the All-Pro section.
  22. Training Camp Wrapup - August 6

    Today was another practice without full pads, so the action was relatively light. Still, I was able to capture some interesting things. Mike Tolbert and Frank Alexander noticed me early and mugged a little for the camera. I hear the guys have been enjoying my camp coverage, which is nice. Nate Chandler was back in action today with a noticeable brace on his right knee. This is a scary omen for Panthers fans. Nate Chandler needs to remain healthy this season. I feel there is a huge step down in talent from Chandler to Garry Williams, who would take over his starting role should he not be able to play. Though he is the receivers coach, Ricky Proehl is also helping to develop the punt returners. Who is more qualified on the team in teaching the intricacies of catching and running with the ball? He gave Kenjon Barner some extra attention today. Spending time with Proehl will only make Barner a more complete player. Proehl gains instant respect from the players as a former NFL star himself. During Passing drills Pilares was once again making plays. Pilares is also returning kicks. I don't have him on my first mock roster, but I certainly would not be shocked if he winds up with a locker. Brenton Bersin also had a solid day today both in individual and team drills. You don't hear as much about Bersin these days, but that is not because he isn't performing well, but because it is no longer a shock that he is performing well. When the media is bored with your solid play, it means you have arrived. I was sure to pay attention to AJ Klein in coverage today, and I liked what I saw. AJ has a nice quick burst and turns his hips well, not often out of place. Solid fundamentals from the second year player. Today featured the most complete kickoff return drills of the camp. It was more of a dress rehearsal. Jordan Gay was given a shot at kicking the ball off. The Panthers will often pick up an extra kicker to save the leg of the starter for when it counts. I am fairly certain Ricky Proehl understands what a gem he has to work with in Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin is the first elite prospect that Ricky has had to mold. In many ways Proehl will be judged on Benjamin's development. Sometimes I think Cam wears his clothing in such a way, as if to just dare someone in the media to comment on it.... no comment. Kelvin Benjamin got his first real taste of being jammed at the line today, and Josh Norman did a nice job of frustrating Kelvin. Kelvin can improve his hands at the line, not allowing receivers to grip him and take him off his route. These fine details of the game are rarely mastered by a rookie. There isn't a more aggressive or less intimidated player pound for pound than Josh Norman. Part of me hope he makes it on the field again mainly because his trash talk it top notch. The fact that he smiles while informing you how awful you are only makes me like him more. Philly Brown had a great day today including a long TD where he burned by Robert Lester. Lester could not catch Philly once he was beaten. Bene Benwikere, however, could. Benwikere was also beaten by Philly Brown early on a deep fade... The difference is that Benwikere has the closing speed and athleticism to catch up and make a play for the ball and causing the incompletion. After practice, Cam Newton once again got in some extra time with his new receivers under the careful eye of offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Cam and all of the other QBs have done this every day of camp. In fact, the quarterbacks consider themselve members of a special club, complete with a secret handshake. They are the wolfpack.
  23. The first rainy day of training camp brought out the best in some, the worst in others. Kelvin Benjamin was participating in warmups, although still in shorts. Benjamin had no brace or protection on his knee and appeared to go through the stretches without any discomfort. He may not be far from suiting up again. Charles Johnson put in extra work with his hand positioning before practice began. Charles knows a defensive lineman's hands are one of the more important aspects of the game to master. Even though Chandler and Bell are in competition for the same position, they still manage to practice and get along without any negative feelings towards one another. We are lucky that is the case, on many teams it would not be. Amini Silatolu is quietly putting together a solid camp after having been out with an injury most of last season. The combination of Turner and Silatolu may be the best guard duo the Panthers have had in quite some time. The future looks very bright along the offensive line interior. Deangelo Williams was once again taking first team snaps. Apparently Deangelo is so familiar with his role he doesn't need to participate in the huddle, and didn't most of the day. Mike Tolbert also received plenty of carries. Ball security is rarely a concern with Tolbert. He covers up well and tends to drag any players who reach for the ball along with him. Antoine Cason and Melvin White are most likely the starting corners this season. In my opinion, Cason is a significant upgrade over Captain Munnerlyn. The Panthers are better off this year at corner. Rookie UDFA Carrington Byndom is a guy I would like to see make the team this year. He has made enough plays on the field to at the very least be considered for a practice squad. James Dockery, the 4th year CB out of Oregon State, had a pretty interception today on a Derek Anderson pass. He was able to cut off Marcus Lucas and make a play on the ball before Lucas could react. Charles Godfrey again had a rough day today. Godfrey, who missed most of the 2013 season with a torn Achilles, now finds himself struggling to learn a new position. Not many players come back from an Achilles tear in a single year. The added stress of learning a new position may be too much for him. Rookie Bene Benwikere may end up starting in the nickel position. Bene had a "would be touchdown" after interception today on a Derek Anderson throw. When matched up against Tavarres King, Godfrey was taken out of position and no longer showed the kind of speed it takes to recover from the mistake. It is unclear if Godfrey is going to be able to make this team at all. Speaking of Tavarres King, King had the best camp day so far of any receiver. The goal for him is to try to separate himself from the lower tier wide receivers who are on the bubble. King's performance today, which included a long TD, should help him reach that goal. Denicos Allen is another player that is struggling early. Allen, at 5'11 and only 225, is pushed around by the tight ends and full backs quite a bit. Today Brandon Williams gave him an elbow that lifted him off the ground and took him out of the play. I like what I am seeing out of second year man AJ Klein. Klein has been working on his covering skills and it may pay off into a starting role, replacing Chase Blackburn. Luke Kuechly remains the field general of the defense. Kuechly is more vocal this season than he has ever been. He appears to be settling into his leadership role. It is obvious everyone on the team respects Luke and follows his lead. In some ways, he may just be the most important player on the team. Nate Chandler once again spent quite a bit of time at left tackle and performed well against Greg Hardy. Chandler is very quick off the snap and rarely gives up the first step to a defensive end, including the speedy Hardy. Trai Turner also had a positive day today and did well in pass protection, even against defenders like Star Lotulelei. Turner, an already formidable run blocker, needs to perfect his pass protection skills to become a well rounded player. Jericho Cotchery had a really nice TD today from Cam Newton, but what was more impressive to me was what Cotchery did just after. Along the sidelines he went over with Brenton Bersin what he did and the intricacies of the play. I won't tell you the number of times I saw Steve Smith do this in camp, but it rhymes with Nero. We are lucky to have Cotchery. Cam Newton had a rough day today, presumably because of the wet conditions. Many of his passes were thrown high. Cam looked frustrated often, not happy at all with his performance. When balls are being overthrown by the quarterbacks, the receiver that it effects the most is 5'10" Kealoha Pilares. The overthrows may not be as big an issue with Kelvin Benjamin back on the field. Pilares did manage to get the most praise from the coaching staff on kick return duties. This may be his best path to making the team. After practice, the quarterbacks and receivers put in extra time with passing drills. Once that was completed, Cam was the last player on the field. He began to do conditioning drills. QB coach Ken Dorsey then went to him with encouragement. Dorsey has a quiet cool about him that gels very well with Newton. Soft spoken and sincere, Dorsey is easy to like. I spoke with Dorsey after practice and asked him about the extra conditioning Newton was doing. Dorsey told me that is something Cam does when he is not happy with the performance he left on the field. Cam takes it upon himself and has the discipline to enforce extra work, a reminder to do better the next day. I'd say that is admirable.
  24. It was an exciting day at training camp. Getting to see the guys in pads for the first time this season revealed a few new things you just cannot see without contact. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed to have been taken during the full team drills. As such, many of my observations will be without images. Most players did not sign autographs while coming on to the practice field. Kelvin Benjamin, Luke Kuechly, and Antoine Cason made at least some time for the fans, so big ups to them. Some players made time for mosquito repellant. Those things will eat you alive in the shady areas. But I digress.... The day started with the usual drills. Then, the passing drills started. Kelvin Benjamin had a great day. I am not sure it is possible to overthrow the man. He made catches on the sidelines and over the middle. I didn't see him drop a single catchable ball all day. I am telling you all right now that he is the real deal and will have an immediate impact on the offense as a rookie. At this point, and I know its early, I would be shocked if he is not a day 1 starter. He looks better right now than Brandon Lafell ever did. Bersin also continues to impress. I spoke to a Panthers staff member who told me he would be shocked if Bersin did not make the squad. I enjoy watching Cotchery play. He does all of the little veteran things to gain advantage. A little grab here, a little push there, but never enough to draw a flag. It quickly becomes obvious the guy just knows hot to play the game at the highest level. Bene Benwikere flashes from time to time. He has a knack for closing quickly in and getting a hand on the ball. The coaches spend quite a bit of time with Bene. That tells me they see real potential in him Ken Dorsey ran the QB drills on the far field where I was the only one to look on. I am glad I did. Included in this year's drill selection is a heavier emphasis on moving in the pocket and avoiding contact. While having to hi step over obstacles, Dorsey would rush in and grab a shoulder. I think getting these guys accustomed to improvising in the pocket is a great thing, especially considering the question marks surrounding the Panthers offensive line. Speaking of offensive line... today we saw the offensive line vs defensive line, full contact, for the first time this season. Lyndon Gaydosh has a size advantage over Brian Folkerts, but was unable to take advantage. Star won the battle between he and Amini Silatolu. Amini did fairly well though and in all fairness not many guys could go one on one with Star and do very well. Kawaan Short versus free agent offensive tackle Oscar Johnson went ... well... the picture says it all. Nate Chandler took on Charles Johnson and Chandler actually had the upper hand. It is unclear if Johnson had poor footing or if Chandler actually dominated him. The most interesting matchup was Trai Turner versus the veteran Dwan Edwards. During the first round, Trai Turner easily won. For round two, turner was outmatched by Edwards and was pushed back about 10 yards. Apparently, Edwards did not appreciate being handled by the rookie in round 1. At that point Turner was pulled aside and coached up. Turner bounced back and did very well all day long in the team drills, at one point pushing Edwards several yards up field. It appears, folks, that Turner really is the road grader he was billed as. Brief intermission... here is a picture of Ryan Kalil. I am not sure I have ever seen him smile on the practice field this year, and I am OK with that. Players Rising: - Kelvin Benjamin. So far he appears to be everything he was supposed to be, and more. - Trai Turner. Playing with the first string and already looking competent. On one particular play he was able to pull right and seal off the block for a Kenjon Barner screen. Pretty advanced stuff for a rookie. - Philly Brown. Has made key plays two days in a row now in the passing game. If he can learn to hang on to punts a roster spot could be secured for him. - Tight Ends. Probably the most impressive offensive unit the Panthers have. Brandon Williams caught a beautiful long bomb today, catching it over his should, in perfect stride. Possibly the best catch of training camp so far. A;l of the tight ends made plays today. Four Tight End set anyone? - Bene Benwikere. Really like this kid's game, I think he could potentially contribute quickly. - Nate Chandler. Chandler is still getting a lot of time at left tackle and looks very solid. At this point, I think the job may be his to lose. Players Falling: - 2nd and 3rd string offensive line. These guys are getting obliterated out there. The Panthers have little depth in this area, pray for a healthy season. - Punt returners. At this point Cason looks to be the best of the bunch, but he has only returned 2 punts since 2011. The Panthers may need to look for an experienced hand here or once again special teams may cost them a game (or two).
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