Panthers report to training camp, look to build bond

Bridget Condon Image
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Panthers report to training camp
Panthers report to training camp eager to get to work.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WTVD) -- Football is back in Spartanburg for the first time since the summer of 2019 and guys are ready to get to work.

The Panthers reported for training camp Tuesday morning, and there were a lot of interesting items coming into the dorm, mostly pillows and TVs, some toilet paper.

No one was more amped up than linebacker Denzel Perryman who got out of his car with his helmet on telling reporters he got a ticket on the way in.

"They said 91," he said. "I was doing the speed limit, but this is how my morning started off."

Perryman said he asked offensive tackle Taylor Moton for some money to help with the $350 ticket. Moton is fresh off signing a new four-year contract extension worth $72 million -- a deal he said didn't get done until about 10 minutes before the deadline

"The decision came down pretty last-minute," said Moton. "I knew in the back of my mind Carolina is where I wanted to stick around and the deal was wonderful, so it turned into a no-brainer for me to stick around the Carolinas. I love it here and I'm excited to be part of something that I think could be special."

Sam Darnold snuck in the dorm without the media catching him. All eyes will be on him when he takes the field tomorrow. The new quarterback said he never had the experience of being in dorms during camp in New York and that it brings him back to his college days.

"I'm super confident," Darnold said. "Going into this training camp I think the whole idea is to just get better every single day. I've always been confident ... that's never going to change. I'm just going to continue to learn the offense every single day and continue to grow with my teammates."

Linebacker Shaq Thompson is entering his seventh year in the league and said the "young" guys are giving him a new kind of energy and that this training camp is a way to form a brotherhood and a bond.

RELATED: Bridget Condon previews Panthers Training Camp with The Athletic's Joe Person

"You get to know your teammates," he said. "You get to play card games, you get to play basketball games. You get to build that chemistry. I want to know something about Denzel that nobody else knows I want to know about his kids. I want to know about his mom, his family and he probably wants to do the same. I just want those guys and even myself to play for each other."

Thompson also added that because they didn't have this bonding experience in the dorms last year, that bond wasn't as strong on the field and at times it felt like they were just playing for random people and not their brothers.

Practice kicks off Wednesday morning at 8:30. Another player to watch will be Christian McCaffrey, who is back healthy and eager to get to work, and we'll be watching who's in front of him at left tackle, a position the Panthers are still trying to find a starter for.

Players will be fined $14,650 for any violation of COVID-19 protocol. Players who are unvaccinated are still required to wear a mask. Most players ABC11 talked to Tuesday did not want to share their vaccination status, including McCaffrey and Darnold. Moton did say he was vaccinated but said the team agrees it is a personal decision.

The Panthers are listed as one of the teams with the highest vaccination rates and are above the 85-percent threshold. Head Coach Matt Rhule said there's no doubt being vaccinated helps his team.

"The more guys that are vaccinated, the closer we can be in meetings and the more we can be around each other," Rhule said. "At the end of the day, it's still everyone's personal decision, so we provided information. We made it clear this is best for us to operate but you have to do what you're comfortable with. "

Panthers General Manager Scott Fitterer agreed.

"The players have done a great job doing that," Fitterer said. "Our entire staff did a great job educating our players on what the vaccine is, how it can help you. I know personally I believe in it, my entire family has been vaccinated. I think it just helps protect us."