Gerald McCoy surprises his teammates by carrying helmets

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SPARTANBURG — Gerald McCoy has wasted no time asserting himself as a leader for the Panthers defense.

After his first practice with the Panthers back in the spring, he had a shaved ice truck waiting for his teammates outside of the locker room.

After Thursday night's practice to kick off training camp, McCoy grabbed some helmets from his fellow veterans and carried them to the locker room.

"My parents always taught me to be a leader," McCoy said. "But in the midst of working to be a leader, I learned that you have to serve before you can lead. Before I know what type of leader I need to be, I need to learn how to serve my teammates."

It's a tradition that's usually reserved for rookie players, but it's nothing new for McCoy. He's been carrying the helmets of his teammates ever since he entered in the league in 2010.

Not surprisingly, a couple of guys were a little surprised.

"Everyone looked at me like, 'What are you doing?'" he said. "I was like, just let me do it. This is what I do. I like taking care of my teammates."

So how does McCoy decide whose helmets to carry?

"Sometimes it's random, but today I decided to go to the older players in each position group. Offense and defense."

Today's helmets included Shaq Thompson, Bruce Irvin and Chris Hogan.

So what's it like to have a six-time Pro Bowler offer to carry your helmet?

"I mean, I'm not going to say no," Thompson said with a smile.

View photos of training camp kick-off practice from Gibbs Stadium.

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