CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a long off-season that saw a new owner arrive as well as major organizational changes, Panthers fans are more than ready to return their focus to the gridiron.
There's plenty of change around the team, including a new owner as well as new offensive and defensive coordinators.
The players reported to training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Wednesday, and here's some info to get fans up to speed ahead of the season.
OPEN CAMP: July 26, Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Fans can celebrate the start of training camp at the Kickoff Party at Wofford College on Thursday, July 26. Admission is free. The party begins at 4 p.m. at Gibbs Stadium and practice begins at 6:30 p.m. Festivities include on-field performances by the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and Black & Blue Crew, Mayors’ Ball Delivery, face painting, interactive games, sponsor displays and more.
KEY PRESEASON DATES:
- July 25 -- Players report to Wofford College
- July 26 -- Kickoff Party, 4 p.m.; Practice, 6:30 p.m.
- Aug. 3 -- Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium, 7 p.m.
- Aug. 9 -- Carolina at Buffalo (preseason), 7 p.m.
- Aug. 13 -- Break Camp
- Aug. 17 -- Miami at Carolina (preseason), 7:30 p.m.
LAST YEAR: The Panthers enjoyed a bounce-back season after failing to reach the playoffs the season before. Carolina lost three times to New Orleans, including the wild-card playoff game.
The lack of a deep threat, a lengthy injury to TE Greg Olsen and poor pass protection doomed the offense. The defense remained one of NFL's best behind MLB Luke Kuechly.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Rookie WR D.J. Moore, WR Torrey Smith, WR Jarius Wright, RB C.J. Anderson, RB Kenjon Barner, G Jeremiah Sirles, DT Dontari Poe, rookie CB Donte Jackson, CB Ross Cockrell, S Da'Norris Searcy.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: G Andrew Norwell, RB Jonathan Stewart, DT Star Lotulelei, DE Charles Johnson, S Kurt Coleman, CB Daryl Worley, QB Derek Anderson.
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CAMP NEEDS: The Panthers need to adjust to three new coordinators: Norv Turner (offense), Eric Washington (defense) and Chase Blackburn (special teams). Turner's relationship with QB Cam Newton will be critical to the team's success.
Second-year RB Christian McCaffrey is the featured back with Jonathan Stewart gone. The team is expected to use more two tight end sets and play-action under Turner.
The addition of WRs D.J. Moore, Torrey Smith, and Jarius Wright should bolster the passing game.
Washington inherits a defense looking to replace four starters (Lotulelei, Johnson, Coleman and Worley). Kuechly, DT Kawann Short, LB Thomas Davis, CB James Bradberry and pass-rushing tandem Julius Peppers and Mario Addison (11 sacks each) all return.
GM Marty Hurney is thrilled with second-round pick CB Donte Jackson, who'll start.
PRACTICE SCHEDULE: All practices are free and open to the public. Be aware that practice times are subject to change.
- Thursday, July 26 (6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Kickoff Party 4 p.m.)
- Friday, July 27 (3:10 – 5:10 p.m.)
- Saturday, July 28 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Sunday, July 29 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Monday, July 30 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Tuesday, July 31 (no practice)
- Wednesday, Aug. 1 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Thursday, Aug. 2 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Friday, Aug. 3 (7 – 9 p.m. Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium, 6 p.m.)
- Saturday, Aug. 4 (no practice)
- Sunday, Aug. 5 (3:10 – 5:10 p.m.)
- Monday, Aug. 6 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Tuesday, Aug. 7 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Wednesday, Aug. 8 (no practice)
- Thursday, Aug. 9 (Carolina at Buffalo, New Era Field, 7 p.m.)
- Friday, Aug. 10 (no practice)
- Saturday, Aug. 11 (3:10 – 5:10 p.m.)
- Sunday, Aug. 12 (9:25 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Monday, Aug. 13 (9:25 – 11:15 a.m. Break Camp)
EXPECTATIONS: The core of the team that's been to the postseason four of past five seasons remains intact, but aging quickly. Peppers is 38, S Mike Adams 37, Davis 35, and C Ryan Kalil and Olsen are 33. Newton is 29.
There is plenty of pressure to win now under new owner David Tepper before the team's window closes. Carolina should compete for the NFC South title with New Orleans and Atlanta if their offense improves.
2018 PANTHERS FAN FEST: The Panthers will host the 2018 Fan Fest celebration on Friday, Aug. 3, at Bank of America Stadium.
Admission will be $5 for a reserved ticket, the second year in a row that fans will be charged to attend. All proceeds from Fan Fest will benefit Carolina Panthers Charities and its mission to serve the needs of communities across the Carolinas.
Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis through Ticketmaster.com or the Panthers.com tickets page. Tickets are limited to six per household.
Stadium gates open at 6 p.m., and the event will include performances by the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and the Black & Blue Crew. Practice begins at 7 p.m.
Fans in attendance will receive a 2018 team roster photo card as a gate giveaway. The event culminates with a fireworks and laser show.
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