Panthers Camp: News And Observations

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    Carolina’s second official practice in pads was almost exclusively 11-on-11 drills, with different in-game situations practiced throughout. There was no tackling but it was as close to a game as it gets, with both offense and defense staying on different sidelines for the whole practice.

    (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

    Head coach Matt Rhule said without OTAs and preseason games in 2020, it is essential to put players in a lot of different in-game situations. In that way, the 89 reps they ran through should be a valuable evaluation tool for the coaching staff.

    — Before drills had started, the specialists got some work outside the Atrium Health Dome. Players returned kicks and Joey Syle showed off his leg strength by bombing some kicks through the uprights.

    — During practice inside, players went through a fun ball security drill where defenders try to strip the ball from the offense, but running backs like Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis got to try forcing a fumble as well.

    — The first-team offense went against the first-team defense. However, Matt Rhule did instruct the groups to rotate different players in. “Sometimes, you never know what a guy can do until you give him a shot,” Rhule said.

    — The first 11-on-11 situation on Tuesday was a traditional move-the-ball drill. Derrick Brown had a nice run stop on McCaffrey on the first play. Robby Anderson also caught a short pass on the right and took it for a big gain with yards after the catch to put the offense in the red zone, but they stalled and settled for a field goal.

    — Quarterback Will Grier put together a string of solid reps. Connecting with new WR TommyLee Lewis for an intermediate gain, Grier also showed some wheels on a red-zone play, scrambling inside the 5-yard line and Jordan Scarlett capped off the drive with a touchdown run up the middle. Following the score, the Panthers worked through an extra point, and a kickoff, much like it would be during a real game. Carolina kept that up throughout the session with punts and kicks.

    — Defense stole the show today for the Panthers. Cornerback Eli Apple was particularly solid in coverage, and shortly after safety Kenny Robinson caused wide receiver Seth Roberts to fumble, defensive end Brian Burns knocked the ball out of McCaffrey’s hands. McCaffrey has only lost 4 fumbles in his first 3 seasons, so he was able to jump back onto the ball.

    — It wasn’t all defense, however, as after a play-action fake, Bridgewater connected with Robby Anderson for a touchdown, floating the ball over Anderson’s shoulder in the end zone.

    — P.J. Walker and Seth Roberts also executed for a touchdown in the red zone.

    — Walker also connected with newcomer tight end Andrew Vollert over the middle and in for another score.

    — During a two-minute drill, safety Juston Burris broke up a pass over the middle. 

    — Bridgewater hit wide receiver DJ Moore with a pair of intermediate routes on the left side, both of which stopped the clock and helped put the offense in scoring position. Slye hit a field goal to complete the drive.

    — Mike Davis got a few carries in a four-minute offense segment, helping burn time off the clock. Bridgewater tried to scramble for a first down on the left side, his slide was ruled down before he reached the marker.

    — The 11-on-11 work finished with a pair of 2-point plays, and the defense won both with strong coverage. Bridgewater had to hold the ball longer than he planned to, and his pass was broken up. Walker tried to make something happen by moving back in the pocket, he was eventually surrounded by defenders and would’ve been sacked by Yetur Gross-Matos.

    All in all, a great day for the Carolina Panthers at Training Camp. The team will be off (Wednesday) before returning on Thursday morning.

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