CHARLOTTE -- There were no storms in the skies above Bank of America Stadium at Fan Fest on Saturday, so the thunder had to come from Carolina's defense.
The Panthers' first-team defense stole the show during the game-condition scrimmage period of the 90-minute practice, allowing just one first down and 11 yards in its three-series, 11-play stint on the field against the No. 2 offense.
"Most camps this time of year the defense is usually a little bit ahead," head coach John Fox said.
The 15,549 in attendance saw tangible evidence of what coordinator Ron Meeks has asked of his defense, even with first-team linebackers
OVERALL, the No. 1, 2 and 3 defensive units combined to permit just one scoring drive on seven full series -- a seven-play, 41-yard march when the third units dueled near the end of practice. Kicker
The first-team offense went through three possessions -- two with
"It didn't go that smoothly," left tackle
"Our defense is a good defense. Twelve plays is just a little sample of what we're going to be all about. But we return all our starters, so I expect us to be better than we were last year."
The No. 1 offense was sprinkled with players from throughout the depth chart. It went without
"There were some guys standing over there by me," Fox said. "Our weapons weren't out there on offense."
With Williams and Stewart watching, rookie
But with each unit limited to a dozen snaps, Goodson, McCown and the No. 1 offensive line couldn't complete the possession -- which was all right, since those players had gleaned what they needed from the day.
"I thought we accomplished what we wanted to do: give some guys live hitting, some live tackling and get them used to football shape," Fox said. "Luckily we got out with no injuries."
And that was the most important aspect of the day -- to emerge unscathed and head back to Spartanburg for the next phase of preparation.
"Next week is going to be critical for us," Gross said. "I think we've got a lot of improvement to do before we put on our pads for real up in New York against the Giants (on Aug. 17)."
... The most acrobatic catch of the day belonged to
... Beavers had the longest gain of the team scrimmage period, grabbing a 16-yard pass from
Consigned to the sideline, Williams chats up the officials on hand to observe the practice.
But Birmingham later found room to run, following
In the end, the day was about fans meeting players and taking home a memory -- and an autograph.
The first off-day from on-field work. The Panthers won't convene for practice again until Monday morning at 9:10 a.m. EDT for the first of two sessions that day. The Panthers will hit the field for seven consecutive days at Wofford College before heading to northern New Jersey for the preseason lid-lifter with the New York Giants on Aug. 17.