I got to Spartanburg 2 hours early today. Figured I'd go see if there was a line for autographs, sure enough there was tents set up, water proof bins full of merchandise. Those guys just piss me off. It started raining about 9:30AM so I went back to my car to stash the camera(sorry no pics). So I figured no one would show up in the rain, boy was I wrong. The crowd was probably around two thousand for a mid week morning practice.
-Steve Smith suited up
-Thomas Davis sat out again, no compression sock today.
-Josh Norman sat out but was able to walk normal
-#4 Rico Wallace sat out
-Was a tough practice for fans, the near field was torn up so they practiced on field 2, a solid 200yards from fans
-This was a padded practice and hitting picked up
-This was the coldest, wettest practice I have ever attended
-I did not bring an umbrella
-Don't just assume Brad Nortman is the punter. Thus far he hasn't looked that great.
-Nortman struggles with directional/coffin corner kicking. Nic Harris is clearly superior in this regard.
-The SPT Coach was calling out hang time. Nortman was averaging about .1 sec more on his punts.
- With that said Harris was able to drop them about the 5yard line, Nortman's were landing about the 10 sometimes 15. Kicking from own 44.
-Medlock missed a long field goal short. It may have been 50 or 55 yards, they had already moved when I looked at them.
-Medlock worked on hurry up kicks with the Coach counting down. Nailed all of them from around 30 yards
-Kuechly dropped his first ball of camp (in the rain) he followed Beason's lead and punished himself with pushups (not every guy is willing to do that)
-The big boys were pushing sleds around in the rain. To far away to critique but it's always a neat sight
-I can't cover many players individually because the action was so far away
-Most of the team drills were 25 yards and in today
-Cam opened them by running a successful read option run
-Derek Anderson gets in on the act to. He's not as athletic but no one respects him as a runner so it usually works.
-Cam was having trouble with the wet ball. Threw a few lame ducks (time to overreact)
-Derek Anderson threw a ball right at #37 Johnathan Nelson, he dropped it
-The D was very successful blitzing. At one point Cam threw the ball in the air theatrically as the D collapsed on him
-They have run an end around/reverse at every practice I have attended
-The D got physical in this practice. Especially the guys trying to make the team. There was a skirmish in the endzone but It was so far from fan seating
-Captain took a few swings at someone after a play. He's been taking on all comers this year.
-You may have read about Cam throwing a pick to Gamble. It was intended for Lafell on a deep route down the middle. Cam tried to let LaFell make a play but he was way to slow. Chris Gamble on the other hand was fast enough. Don't let that worry you, in context it wasn't that bad. Just taking a shot when it doesn't count
-The Defense really started to stuff the run near the end of practice. Sometimes they get burnt but overall the D dominated this session.
-It was either Greg Olsen or Gary Barnidge that caught a ball in the end zone but got leveled from behind for a drop
-Armanti Edwards beat man coverage for a ~12 yard Touchdown late in practice
-Cam tried to hit Tolbert in the flat and one of the big nasties picked it off. Looked like a DT, I'm sure someone with access tweeted it
Big Picture Stuff:
-Beason is 4 days into camp and fully participates. I thought maybe he would be taking days off for inflammation but that is not the case.
-I am yet to see Kuechly get undressed by his coaches. They talk to him on a higher intellectual level than most rookies
-The D struck back today. With the rain causing errant passes and drops the D blitzed mercilessly. The Line isn't getting much penetration, they just occupy a man and let the safeties/linebackers make the play
-Knock on wood, there has been a lack of serious injuries.
-Camp is ramping up slowly which has helped the injuries. Every day they get a little more physical but the weather has been very tolerable. The pace is quick and tidy but not frantic.
Things our fans around the country may not know:
-The hill where everyone sits is nicely manicured grass. There are no ants to worry about but lots and lots of tiny spiders. If you sit on the grass they crawl across your legs.
-When you get off I-85 and onto 9, you know you've gone to far when you see two Krispy Kremes at the same intersection
-The fans in attendance aren't all Panther fans. Some of them are Wofford students. They like the Falcons, Dolphins, Bills, and Steelers. They even wear their team's colors to practice.
-The average person in attendance gets Johnathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert confused. Huddlers are usually more educated on the team than the people I run into at practice.
-There is a train track running behind the wooded area. It sounds more like a jet engine moving really slowly. Very odd sound for a football practice.
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The top notch reporters for the Observer had the same summary as you did. Except for what you talk about at the beginning, the stuff in the middle and the details you sprinkle in at the end...
In all seriousness, if it weren't for these reports a lot of us would not have any idea about what is happening at camp.
Thanks for the perspective and the detailed write up