2020 Training Camp Observations: Lighter day in the rain

Robby Anderson helmet

CHARLOTTE — Rainy conditions didn't stop the Panthers from spending most of Friday's practice outside. It started with a slight drizzle, but that turned into a shower as practice went on and didn't let up for the entire session.

Friday was lighter than Thursday, as players were in shells instead of full pads.

Here are some observations from practice:

— Rookie safety Jeremy Chinn has established a routine where he works on the four-man sled for a few minutes before the start of each session. That continued Friday before he went back inside for the Panthers' early drills.

— Carolina began practice by working on a two-minute drill. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected on a pair of passes to wide receiver Robby Anderson to put the Panthers in field goal position.

— After practice, head coach Matt Rhule said he began the day that way because two-minute was an area where the team struggled over the last few sessions. Generally, Rhule's practice schedules are fluid, and he will adapt them to what he feels like the team needs.

— To that point, the offense worked on two-minute situations against air after the defense went inside the Atrium Health Dome for individual drills. The tempo varied, with some plays full speed and others at a walk-through pace. The offense went through different scenarios, from needing to get specific yardage to a Hail Mary.

— During individual drills, the offensive line worked on blocking trap plays, some of the most fun plays for any offensive lineman. They're designed to lull a defensive player into a false sense of security before hitting him with a block to open a hole.

Panthers offensive line

— The offense line also worked through a drill where each player had to block three incoming defenders. The first had to be passed off to the right, one to the left, and the third kept in front. The drill helps with hand technique and maintaining a wide base.

— With a long individual period, there was a lot of time for quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs to work on routes against air. While any football activity without an opponent must be taken with a grain of salt, those drills aid in establishing chemistry and timing between quarterbacks and skill players.

— The Panthers went through a few one-on-one pass-rush drills, which also must be taken with a grain of salt because players were not wearing pads. Defensive tackle Kawann Short took a couple of reps from the edge, which meshes with what he's said about being prepared to play anywhere on the line.

— Linebacker Shaq Thompson, who sat out Thursday with a groin tweak, was back practicing and was in for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. On the first play of 7-on-7, he broke up a pass to tight end Chris Manhertz.

— Also in 7-on-7, quarterback Will Grier delivered a nice pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts down the right seam. It would have gone for a significant gain if not a touchdown. Roberts has flashed with some big catches throughout camp.

— The 7-on-7 period ended with Bridgewater delivering a pass to tight end Ian Thomas on the left side for a touchdown. Thomas initially bobbled the ball but secured it before running out of bounds.

— In 11-on-11 drills, running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the play of the day when he adjusted to a deep ball on the right side and caught it with a slide.

Christian McCaffrey

— Rookie cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III broke up a pass on the defense's left. He and wide receiver Ishmael Hyman were close together toward the sideline. When both went up, Thomas-Oliver batted the ball out of Hyman's hands.

— The Panthers brought out soccer balls for a special teams period, which initially seemed odd but soon made sense as a punt block circuit. Players lined up to rush, then as a coach (or in one case, long snapper J.J. Jansen) dropped the soccer ball to punt it lightly, players had to use their hands to block it. Various iterations of the same drill went on around the field, with some players rushing up the middle and others rushing from the edge.

Punt block circuit

— Rhule had the Panthers split the field to allow two 11-on-11 drills to occur at the same time. One side of the field had starters, and the other had reserves.

— During that period, Anderson caught a contested touchdown pass toward the back of the end zone just as Brandon Zylstra got a knee down to make a catch before going out of the end zone on the other side of the field.

— A few minutes later, Bridgewater completed a pass to McCaffrey in the middle of the end zone. McCaffrey punctuated the score with a big spike.

— Cornerback Cole Luke recorded an interception on the reserves side of the field after linebacker Chris Orr got his hands on a pass but couldn't catch it. The ball stayed up in the air long enough for Luke to jump under it for a takeaway.

— Finally, Rhule kept the players in a long huddle at the end of practice. Afterward, Rhule said he talked to the team about different situations to get everyone going in the same direction. He added that he tries not to talk too much, but today was one of those days where he did go a bit long.

View photos from Friday's training camp practice.

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