SPARTANBURG — After some practices that haven't exactly been crisp, the Panthers are doing what they can to try to remind guys how thin the margin of error is.
In recent days, players who make mistakes in practice like penalties or turnovers have been running a penalty lap. Now, they have a specific destination in mind.
The latest addition to the practice routine is the DBO sign, which stands for "Don't Beat Ourselves." The sign hangs under a tent near the corner of the end zone, and when you screw up, you have to go touch the sign as a reminder of the importance of being detailed, and the thin margin of error.
"We had been taking a lap, but we decided to put something on the practice field, so they run to it and remind themselves this is how we win games," Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. "By not jumping offsides, by not having penalties. Just a little thing, but a reminder."
The sign was getting a good number of fingerprints on it Wednesday, with the hope that eventually, they might not need it.
At one point, the entire first offense ran over there en masse after a mistake in team drills. Other players made the trek individually, after offenses small and large.
Rhule said they blatantly ripped the idea off from the Dolphins and head coach Brian Flores. During Flores' first year in Miami, players who made mistakes had to touch the "Takes No Talent" wall for similar offenses, since being detailed doesn't require being fast or strong.
Panthers assistant quarterbacks coach Matt Lombardi was with the Dolphins as a quality control coach in 2019, and the best ideas are always stolen.
False starts will earn you a trip to sign. So will getting in a fight in practice, like Robby Anderson and Troy Pride Jr. did when they got tangled up after a play. Rhule put the onus back on players, telling them if they made certain decisions, they had to accept the consequences.
"Obviously, we want to be a disciplined team," Rhule said. "My point was if someone does something to you and you need to turn around and fight, that's a decision you're making. And there's going to be repercussions. So even if you're completely justified, we're not going to win a lot of games if everyone's doing what they want to do. The way you win games is to do what the team needs. So if we're going to take 15-yard penalties and be a penalized team, we're not going to win games. If you're going to fight, fight. But there's going to be some repercussions, large or small."
The props can only last so long (Flores ditched the TNT wall after a year), but sometimes, you have to prove a point.
— Wednesday's practice was much crisper for the first offense, with Sam Darnold and friends enjoying a much more effective morning.
From early red zone work, they looked better than they had in recent days.
On one play, Darnold dumped the ball down to Christian McCaffrey, and when he dashed to the corner of the end zone for the score, the entire offense came together for a group spike, with right tackle Taylor Moton doing the honors.
With every passing day, it seems a different receiver stands out in practice.
Anderson (other than the fight) was quite good, with a toe-drag touchdown across the back of the end zone standing out among the highlights. Veteran Brandon Zylstra also had a good day, showing he's capable of doing more than special teams.
— The injury update is getting a little longer.
Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood and running back Darius Clark were out of practice after suffering concussions in Tuesday's practice.
Linebackers Shaq Thompson and Denzel Perryman were also wearing red jerseys, along with cornerback A.J. Bouye.
— Cornerback Jaycee Horn broke out his signature seatbelt celebration after breaking up a pass for tight end Dan Arnold in the front corner of the end zone.
Horn's had an excellent first camp, and while Rhule mentioned him getting a little grabby with receivers earlier, the crew of officials working Wednesday's practice had no problem with the play.
— With contact increasing, sometimes hygiene takes a hit.
Running back Chuba Hubbard lost his mouthpiece during an inside run drill. Defensive back Myles Hartsfield picked it up and threw it back to the offensive side of the field, whereupon Hubbard put it back in his mouth. Getting a little grass in your mouth is still better than not having a mouthpiece.
— The Panthers have added some new faces in recent days. After picking up linebackers Jonathan Celestin and Nate Hall the last two days, they added veteran safety Doug Middleton Wednesday morning.
The former Appalachian State standout has been with the Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Titans previously, and adds some more experience to the room.
To make room for him on the roster, they waived rookie fullback Mason Stokke.
View photos from Wednesday's training camp practice at Wofford.