Panthers Training Camp Recap

August 13, 2018

Another year at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. and the 2018 Carolina Panthers Training Camp is officially a wrap.

“Too many guys came in and worked hard. To single out people at training camp, as I looked at it and reflected, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” head coach Ron Rivera told after the final practice. 

Beginning on July 26 with FanFest, Training Camp finished on August 13 with defensive and offensive lineman Dontari Poe and Taylor Moton each hauling in punts from Michael Palardy to end the final day early.

How to end the last day of camp early?@tmoton72 & @PoeMans_dream both catch a punt from Palardy! #PanthersCamp

— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 13, 2018

With plenty of positives to take away from camp, unfortunately not everyone made it out healthy. All pro tackle Daryl Williams (torn MCL), offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (torn meniscus) and CB Ross Cockrell (broken leg) were just a few of the major injuries.

I'll be taking a brief look at the three positives, negatives enjoyable/fun moments that took place at Panthers Training Camp as we enter the 2018 season. 

The Good: 

1. The receiving corps looks like it will be the best group since Cam Newton arrived in Carolina: Year after year, fans have wished that Cam had just a few more receiving weapons to put him at the next level and not only be classified as a running quarterback. Tight End Greg Olsen has been Newton's only weapon as the Panthers have gone through different receivers left and right. Not to mention the disappointment in Kelvin Benjamin. But if Training Camp showed anything, it's that the Panthers may finally have the receiving depth they've been looking for. Veteran Devin Funchess returns, rookie first-round pick DJ Moore has looked like a future star, Torrey Smith brings a winning mentality that they haven't had in quite some time and Jarius Wright looks like he can be a big threat in the slot. Oh, and Curtis Samuel has looked very impressive after missing all of last season with an injury. Additionally, rookie Ian Thomas has continually been praised by head coach Ron Rivera and teammates for his camp performance. After the final practice Monday, Ron Rivera said "This roster is the fastest we've had." 

“This (roster) seems to be the fastest we’ve had.” - Ron Rivera, wrapping up camp

— Bill Voth (@PanthersBill) August 13, 2018

2. There is hope that Donte Jackson and Captain Munnerlyn can help hold down the secondary: When Ross Cockrell went down with a broken leg, many worried that the Panthers secondary, which has been the team's biggest weakness since losing Josh Norman, would once again struggle with depth since it has been bitten so hard by the injury bug this offseason. Kevon Seymour looked really bad in the team's first preseason game and this has left many hoping that rookie second-rounder Donte Jackson will get a shot as a starting cornerback come week one. On Sunday, Jackson was one of just a few players in Training Camp to intercept Cam Newton. He then returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. Veteran Captain Munnerlyn had a down season in his first year back with the Panthers in 2017, but he brought an energy to camp this year that gave a glimpse of hope that he can return to his old self. James Bradberry looks to help anchor the unit and Lorenzo Doss surprised in camp to possibly receive some time this year. 

Asked Torrey Smith who stood out on defense.

“Besides Luke? Donte Jackson. I’ve never seen a player grow more in a single offseason.”

— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) August 13, 2018

3. The defensive line has a chance to be just as dominant as 2015: With or without Thomas Davis this year (suspended the first four games for PEDs) the Panthers linebackers and the defensive line has depth and talent. Dontari Poe is expected to be a huge addition and Mario Addison has looked very versatile. Julius Peppers hasn't participated yet this season due to injury, but when he returns, he will add even more depth to the D-Line. Luke Keuchly is looking as good as ever, including two interceptions over the last two days on Cam Newton and Shaq Thompson is finally showing the potential to replace Thomas Davis. 

The Bad: 

1. Injuries: There is no other way to put it. Injuries suck. Injuries are the risk that all 32 NFL teams tak throughout Training Camp and preseason. The Panthers were unfortunate victims of many serious and minor injuries this year. Daryl Williams will be a big hit on the offensive line until or if he returns this year, leaving Taylor Moton to make up for the left tackle spot. Moton has looked solid in Training Camp so far and Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue told The Mac Attack on WFNZ that he has been her offensive MVP this camp. Losing Silatolu won't help the offensive line and Cockrell puts a dent in the secondary. Tight end Chris Manhertz broke his foot, linebacker Andre Smith tweaked his hamstring in the first preseason game, Tyler Larsen still hasn't participated and of course, Julius Peppers has been on the PUP list all camp. If injuries continue, the Panthers season could be out of reach quickly. 

Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue: "My Offensive MVP From Training Camp Is Taylor Moton"


— WFNZ-AM (@wfnz) August 13, 2018

2. The offensive line may be shuffling for a few weeks: This one is pretty obvious. Training Camp helped give fans and coaches a better idea of who should start, but it's still not clear. With the injuries of Daryl Williams and Silatolu, the Panthers left guard and left tackle position will be ones to watch. Jeremiah Sirles was signed to help replace the loss of Andrew Norwell, but he has been out with an injury this camp. Silatolu is out for a few weeks, and rookie Brendan Mahon has been asked to take a lot of reps at the position. Greg Van Roten received the start in Thursday's preseason game against the Bills, but both have struggled some in camp. Van Roten was even moved to right guard over Trai Turner on Sunday at practice. If there is any position group to be worried about this season, it's the offensive line. And it may be a few games for it to be fixed. You also have to wonder how long the Kalil brothers will stay healthy. 

3. Cam Newton finished the final week looking a bit rough: No, I'm not going to be Colin Cowherd and say Newton isn't accurate and is about the have a bad season, but after a solid first week of practice with no interceptions, Cam threw three interceptions in 13 minutes during the team's final camp day on Monday. That included one to newly signed defensive back Alex Carter. Newton will probably be just fine, but it makes you wonder if there will be any adjusting to new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Newton gave Turner the "Boogie Approved" go-ahead last week and went 6/9 for 84-yards against the Bills, but with all the offseason talk of Cam struggling with accuracy, it has to be something we wonder about. We should take the last few days with a grain of salt, but it's something that deserves to at least be mentioned.

The Enjoyable:

1. Cam Newton finds Bojangles at Fan Fest and feasts with the quarterbacks: This was such a memorable and fun way to open up Training Camp. Towards the end of practice, Cam went and asked a fan for their Bojangles Box and ran to the middle of the field to have a pretend feast. Things seem to be different under the new ownership of David Tepper. 

Cam Newton got Bojangles at training camp --

— Athlete Swag (@AthleteSwag) July 27, 2018

2. The Kyle Love crop top: Defensive tackle Kyle Love made headlines when he decided to rock a crop top. So of course, WFNZ decided to take on the challenge themselves:

Crop top game at --

— Kelsey Riggs (@KelseyRiggsWCNC) August 6, 2018

3. The Cam Newton/Kelvin Benjamin feud: Nobody expected Kelvin Benjamin to call out Cam Newton randomly before the Panthers-Bills preseason game, but he did, and then they exchanged some words before the game. The WFNZ Midday show reenacted the words here:
Hopefully, this whole issue is put to rest, but it was fun while it lasted. 

Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin exchange a few words -- (via @MWalshMedia)

— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) August 9, 2018

The Panthers will have a day off until they return to Charlotte on Wednesday and face the Miami Dolphins on Friday at home for their second preseason game of the year.