Football season is officially here. This week the Panthers will report to the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg for the start of training camp.
Scott Fitterer and company addressed some clear roster needs this offseason, but questions still remaining as the real work…the pad work begins. Here are 3 players to watch in Spartanburg and why:
Offensive line as been an area of inconsistency and weakness for the Panthers for years. The front office made some headway in solidifying that group by finalizing Taylor Moton’s 4-year contract extension, but questions still loom. One of them is whether Cam Erving will be the answer at left tackle. The former 1st round pick who made stops in Cleveland, Kansas City and most recently Dallas, has struggled with injuries and was a limited participant in off-season OTA’s for undisclosed reasons. Last season, Erving played 258 just snaps for the Cowboys – giving up 1 sack and 1 penalty, and receiving a 58.0 ranking by PFF. This is a prove-it year for Erving. A year of redemption. This is an opportunity to come into training camp with a clear position and clear mission – separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
My whole career I’ve been labeled as a jack of all trades. Now, I’m getting the opportunity to go out there a play a position I feel like I can excel at.
Will he be the answer? For the stake of Sam Darnold, who is on a redemption mission of his own, the Panthers hope so.
There were high hopes and expectations for Ian Thomas heading into last season. The Panthers’ tight end spent two years as Greg Olsen’s backup – soaking up all the knowledge he could from the future Hall-of-Famer. It was expected to translate on the field, but so far it hasn’t. In 2020, Teddy Bridgewater rarely targeted the tight-ends, even in red-zone situations. Given the Panthers’ disappointing red-zone statistics last season (Carolina was ranked 28th red zone scoring percentage), expect Brady and company to expand the playbook, including targeting Thomas and fellow tight end Dan Arnold, who Carolina signed to a 2-year deal in March, more. Thomas should have an opportunity to shine this season, but it starts with having a good training camp and solidifying his role as starter. And if that isn’t motivation enough, playing in the final year of his contract will be.
It’s motivation, but I wouldn’t say pressure. Motivation to do well to feed my family and to have a successful career. That’s always the goal.
Jeremy Chinn had one of the best rookie seasons in the NFL. He wasn’t just a linebacker, corner, or a safety…he was a playmaker. This year Matt Rhule, Phil Snow and company plan to streamline his defensive duties, but that all depends on how he performs during training camp. With the Panthers moving on from Tre Boston, the defense loses a depth and experience at the safety position. Chinn has been meeting with the safeties during the offseason and will likely line up with them at the start of camp. The transition shouldn’t be a difficult one with a player as talented as Chinn, but it will be one to watch. How will be adjust to exclusive role at safety on this level? Will he pickup where he left off from last year’s impressive rookie campaign? We will learn the answer to some of these questions in Spartanburg.
I’m comfortable playing safety. I’m comfortable playing any position. Where ever I’m needed that’s where I’ll play.
The Panthers’ first training camp practice will be Wednesday at 8:30am. Make sure you’re follow Carolina Blitz for updates from Wofford.