Saturday, I took a trip to Spartanburg, SC to attend the first Training Camp practice of the Carolina Panthers. Now, I know you're thinking, "Aren't you a Saints fan?" Indeed, I am. You've been paying attention. However, aside from being a Cam Newton fan, I'm a football fan, so I was glad to have the opportunity to check out a little football, regardless of the team. The Panthers celebrated the start of their training camp with a Back to Football party at Gibbs Stadium Plaza on the campus of Wofford College from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with live music, cheerleaders, food, and fun for the kids. Practice immediately followed the party from 6:30-8:30 p.m., after which players took the time to sign autographs, greet the fans, and thank everyone for coming out before heading to the locker room (Cam signed my Auburn National Championship t-shirt!).
As the team trickled out onto the field you could feel the anticipation of the crowd for the arrival of their team's newest star. Jimmy Clausen came out first to a few cheers, but when Cam Newton ran came out on the field, the crowd erupted into applause and cheers. Cam Newton is clearly a crowd favorite. The fans were eager to see him take a few snaps and connect with his teammates and they were not disappointed. Not only did Cam look good for his first practice as a NFL ($22 million) player, but Jimmy Clausen looked good as well. Both made great plays that wowed the crowd. The two quarterbacks auditioning for the starting spot showed a sign of healthy, friendly competition as Jimmy initiated a fist bump with Cam.
Overall, for the first time hitting the field, the team looked good from the offense to the defense. I suspect that we will see a lot fewer empty seats at Bank of America stadium this season, not only because of their newest young star, but because I believe this will be a team to watch.
(Images and video are my own)