The start of a new week had the Carolina Panthers players coming out in their helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. Today was the final “ramp up” acclamation practice before fully padded practices tomorrow, August 3. The results of today’s practice were heavy in the defense’s favor.
Instead of the usual drills of 1 on 1, 7 on 7, and 11 on 11, I will break down today’s practice like this.
#1. The attention to detail by the Panthers coaching staff to each positional group is unlike any I saw during the Ron Rivera era. They are actually teaching and thoroughly breaking down why it works this way and why it does not work the other way. Discipline and technique will be their signature.
#2. Outside of WR Omar Bayless, RB Christian McCaffrey, and most of the TE group, everyone else on offense stunk up the place all around. DJ Moore caught a slant pass in stride but had it knocked out from the back by LB Hassan Reddick. LT Cam Irving had two false starts. WR Shi Smith has one as well. WR Robbie Anderson had a drop along with TE Ian Thomas. These mistakes were followed by doing laps around the practice field. Coach Rhule had to call multiple team huddles to get the players back focused, but the struggle was real today.
#3. For what it is worth, without full pads, the defense looks like it will be capable of being a Top 10 unit. The defensive line looks unlockable more times than not. The linebackers were filling gaps quickly on RBs not named McCaffrey. The secondary had a field day with making 3 INTs and several pass deflections. Rookie CB Jaycee Horn had 2 of those INTs in 7 on 7 drills. S Sean Chandler had the other INT.
Overall I am not in panic mode because the team has yet to go full pads. But enough concerns have been pointed out during this acclimation period to have some reservations. Stay tuned for more updates.