The 2020 Carolina Panthers training camp is one with many unique circumstances.
For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers training camp headquarters is not located at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Instead, it makes its Queen City debut at the confines of Bank of America Stadium and the Atrium Health Dome aka The Bubble. For the first time in NFL History, the Preseason schedule of games will not commence.
The circumstances are blatant as first-year Head Coach Matt Rhule takes the podium at team meetings, leading a vastly new coaching staff and players, all of whom are spread across a large open area, six feet apart. The team’s first game is less than a month away.
Here are the takeaways from the first week of Camp.
DE (#73) Jalen Jelks– (former Dallas Cowboy: 7th round pick from Oregon)
K/P (N/A) Kaare Vedvik– (2-year NFL experience)
LB (#46) Julian Stanford– (8-year NFL veteran, former Buffalo Bill)
WR (#83) Marken Michel– (2 years CFL experience: Calgary Stampeders)
WR (#18) Tommylee Lewis– (former New Orleans Saint, 4-year NFL veteran)
LB Kyahva Tezino
LB Jason Ferris
LB David Reese
RB Jordan Scarlett
TE Cam Sutton
TE Andrew Vollert
WR DeAndrew White
- Teddy Bridgewater (QB #5) proved his status as a leader and top QB on the roster. During practices, he’s shown his accuracy and touch as a passer.
- Coach Rhule has said that PJ Walker (QB #6) had the edge over Will Grier (QB #3) at the start of camp, but commended Grier for closing that gap. The backup QB spot is still fair game.
- Christian McCaffrey (RB #22) Coach Matt Rhule has mentioned McCaffrey as a potential punt returner. Christian returned punts extraordinarily well at Stanford, but ideally, you do not want your cash cow RB on return duty.
- Mike Davis (RB #28) appears to be getting reps with the second team mixed in with the first team. Make no mistake about it, though; the battle for RB spots continues. An outsider to the RB room is even getting reps.
- Russell Okung (OT #76) appears to be a starter along with Taylor Moton (OT #72) as starting tackles.
- Greg Little (OT #74) appears to be having a rough time when it comes to 1-on-1 drills, but Coach Rhule has pointed him out as a guy that will get better with experience.
- Dennis Daley (OL #65) spent time at both RG and LG with the first two units.
- John Miller (OG #67) looks to be the starting RG. Coach Rhule praised his humble and hardworking demeanor, and dubbed him “the type of player we are looking for.” He was also a former Louisville teammate of Teddy Bridgewater.
- Ian Thomas (TE #80) is getting more first-team reps as each day passes. He has won match-ups against the teams’ best safeties and shows up in offense vs. defense drills.
- Coach Rhule recognized Chris Manhertz (TE #82) as one of the best blocking TEs in the league, likely for his tremendous efforts blocking last season.
- Giovanni Ricci (TE #85) was praised by all-time Panthers great Wesley Walls for making his former number “look good,” as well as “moving around fluidly” in drills. He has also won his fair share of matchups in 1-on-1s.
- Curtis Samuel (WR #10), DJ Moore (WR #12), and Robby Anderson (WR #11) have all contributed to the Panthers team official social media highlights with fantastic grabs and crisp routes.
- Tommylee Lewis (WR #18) was praised for his precision on routes early last week by Jake Delhomme, who attributed that to the Saints’ emphasis on attention to detail concerning routes. He will likely battle with pro-bowl returner Pharoh Cooper (WR #14) for kick returning reps.
- Keith Kirkwood (WR #19) and Omar Bayless (WR #17) were both having impressive performances until injuries set them back. Reports expect them to be out at least several weeks.
- Coach Rhule has said he plans on keeping 6 or 7 receivers on the roster. It is shaping up to be a fierce battle for the last few WR spots.
- Brian Burns (DE #53) has shown his speed for the position. Also, Panther’s all-time great Julius Peppers has passed the proverbial torch to him via social media.
- Stephen Weatherly (DE #91) worked with the first team DL for most of the week. He provides a veteran presence as a member of a reasonably young position group. Even if he doesn’t start, he will be a key rotational player.
- Rookie Yetur Gross-Matos (DE #97) ended the week as a starter in the team’s Saturday scrimmage.
- Rookie Derrick Brown (DT #95) has garnered his teammates’ praise for being able to move as he does with his size. Also, we are pretty sure the dummies used in DL drills dread when he has next.
- Kawann Short (DT #99) seems to have the respect and the ear of Coach Rhule, as he suggested that the head coach mix in some 2nd and 3rd string guys in with the first team to see who is ready for the challenge.
- Coach Rhule praised Shaq Thompson (LB #54) for his work ethic. He missed a day of practice with some groin soreness, but it does not seem severe.
- Tahir Whitehead (LB #52) and Shaq Thompson put in some extra work on the side with Christian McCaffrey this week in pass coverage. Thompson and Whitehead appear to be the starting duo at LB.
- Donte Jackson (CB #26) was challenged by Coach Rhule to be an “everyday corner; difference-maker.” His hands have been full of tough matchups against the WRs.
- TJ Green (CB #24) began the week as the starter opposite Donte Jackson. He has the size and speed Coach Rhule loves.
- Eli Apple (CB #41) ended the week as a starting corner.
- Corn Elder (CB #29) and Rookie Stan Thomas Oliver (CB #23) have had solid efforts in 1-on-1s. Coach Rhule previously identified Oliver as someone he wants to “develop and build around; has a chance to be really special.”
- Tre Boston (FS #33) has been called the new CEO of “Thieves Avenue” by former panther Kurt Coleman and was praised by Roman Harper for being the veteran leader and tone-setter for the back end.
- Juston Burris (SS #31) ended the week as a starter. Coach Rhule looks forward to helping him develop and improve.
- Rookie Jeremy Chinn (S/LB #21) has spent time with the safeties, linebackers, and nickel corners, as promised.
- Myles Hartsfield (S/CB #38) Has been taking snaps at DB and RB for the team. He ended Saturday’s scrimmage with an interception and a rushing touchdown. Coach Rhule has said he is looking for position flexibility and recalls Hartsfield’s’ high school film at RB.
- Joey Slye (K #4) received praise for his physique and his kicking power. He ended Saturday’s practice early by nailing an awkward kick through the uprights from the sideline.
- August 17th-September 6th:
- Contact integration period. The team can have a maximum of 14 padded practices. The team has 13 days left in this period.
- September 10th:
- The first games of the 2020 season
- September 13th:
- Raiders @ Panthers – 1 p.m.