CHARLOTTE – Panthers players and coaches aren't the only ones ready for primetime.
"Having three in a row in front of our home fans is definitely an added edge," said fullback Mike Tolbert, whose Panthers will begin the three-game stretch with a Sunday Night Football showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. "We know they're going to be ready, and we're going to be ready.
"It's a primetime game – what more could you ask for? You mark those games on the calendar because everybody gets to see you. You want to put on the best show that you can."
Panthers fans are known for showing up in droves – 129 consecutive home games have sold out – while still showing respect for visiting fans. Veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, in his second season with the Panthers, well remembers his first primetime game at Bank of America Stadium when his former team – the Pittsburgh Steelers – came to town in Week 3 last season.
"I missed that Sunday night game – man, of all nights - but the atmosphere was electric," said Cotchery, who sat that game out with a thigh injury. "The atmosphere was terrific, and Pittsburgh travels very well, but we held up very well.
"I'm just looking forward to this. Our crowd creates a lot of energy."
It's a positive energy according to safety Kurt Coleman, in his first season with the Panthers following stints in Philadelphia and Kansas City.
"My family loves Panthers games, they really do," Coleman said. "It's very inviting. They've had so much fun. Whether you're home or away, the fans are very cordial with each other. It's a competitive game, but there's nothing aggressive, nothing that ever crosses that boundary."
Leading up to last week's road game against the Seattle Seahawks and their often mentioned "12th Man," quarterback Cam Newton was asked about what he thought of Seattle's fans.
His answer hit close to home.
"When it's third-and-four in the fourth quarter with three minutes left and you've got to get a first down, I'd like to put Bank of America up there with anybody in the nation, anybody in the world," Newton said. "It's extremely loud, and fans get rowdy when the game gets close."
Panthers fans are known for being rowdy in the right way, named along with just two other teams as a top-performing clubs in a 2013 NFL fan behavior survey. Fans will have ample opportunity over the next three weeks to showcase their unique brand of "Southern hostility," with the Eagles and then the Indianapolis Colts visiting for primetime games, followed by a home date with the Green Bay Packers.
"We've got a great group of fans, and we've got a great group of games coming up, so I think they'll be jacked up and give us a great homefield advantage," defensive tackle Dwan Edwards said. "When we get the place rocking, I'd put it up against anyone."