The Carolina Panthers roster has four players over the age of 30. About a quarter of the roster is 23-years old or younger.
It’s the product of big draft classes and moving on from veteran players. A result of that youth is that it will also lead to some learning opportunities.
Toward the end of Saturday night’s practice, which took place under the lights at Gibbs Stadium on Wofford’s campus as part of the NFL’s Back Together Saturday celebration across the league, coach Matt Rhule pulled the team in to talk because he didn’t like what he was seeing. The players weren’t doing the same things that he had seen during the practices earlier in the week.
“I was not happy at the end, because we’re doing too many things tonight that we don’t normally do. You got to be the same guy every day,” Rhule said. “Our best players, they’re the same on Wednesday as they are on Sundays, and some of our guys tonight were amped up and were on the ground. We’re never on the ground at practice this much.
“… Just brought him them in and just said, don’t do different things because there’s people here. Just do what we do on the practice field out here. That’s an important message for a young team.”
Multiple times throughout the practice players were taken to the ground, a type of over-agressiveness isn’t expected to happen during these sorts of practices without full pads on.
“Early on, I noticed that a little bit. It’s not really professional,” wide receiver Robby Anderson. “That’s how things can happen to people. Just being smart out there.”
The practice took place in front of a few thousand fans with Sir Purr in attendance and plenty of attractions for fans. There have been no major injuries in camp and while there were more cheers than at a normal practice, it was probably the least eventful practice the team has had yet.
Who stood out?
Different players have emerged on different days. A couple of days ago, it was Terrace Marshall, but he had a few drops Saturday. Defensive linemen Brian Burns and Derrick Brown, who are entering Year Two and Year Three respectively, have been consistent on defense.
But on Saturday, it was wide receiver Robby Anderson, who made the play of the day.
What was the play of the day?
Before joining the Panthers in 2020, Anderson was known for being one of the fastest wide receivers in the league.
He showed that in Saturday’s training camp practice, when he was one-on-one with safety Sean Chandler. Anderson ran a corner route, toward the right side of the end zone, leaving Chandler a few steps behind it.
The pass from Will Grier initially looked like it was overthrown, but Anderson accelerated and caught the pass with one hand before taking it to the endzone.
“For a split second I thought I wasn’t gonna get it, because it had a lot of air under it, but I just trusted it,” Anderson said. “Came down with it, threw one hand out and grabbed it.”
Other notes from practice
▪ Linebacker Shaq Thompson left the practice field 30 minutes early. Rhule said that he sent him in early for some treatment as he was having some tightness in his lower body, but that it “didn’t seem too serious.”
▪ Kicker Joey Slye started off practice as the only player missing from the field, but it wasn’t because he was missing from practice. Slye was working on the practice fields where there is more space before joining the team in the stadium.
Slye went 6/7 on field goals Saturday night, hitting from a variety of distances, but missing one from 48-yards out. He kicked again successfully from the same distance immediately after.
▪ Marshall has been one of the stars of camp, something a former Panthers wide receiver has taken note of. On the Panthers livestream during practice, Steve Smith spoke highly of the rookie.
“I think he is going to surprise some people, not as fans, but people that are lined up ahead of him,” Smith said. “That man is going to steal some people’s jobs.”
Anderson compared Marshall to former NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas after practice.
▪ Wide receiver DJ Moore made an impressive catch near the sideline with Jeremy Chinn in coverage during 1-on-1 drills. Sam Darnold put the ball right where it needed to be on an otherwise average day for the quarterback.
What’s Sunday’s schedule and when do the pads come on?
Panthers players are off Sunday. They will return to the field at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Spartanburg, SC.
The team will not put pads on until Tuesday’s practice. The current collective bargaining agreement prohibits full pads until Day 7 of training camp.