CHARLOTTE – The Panthers' offseason workout program is over, and now the countdown begins for the start of training camp.
General manager Dave Gettleman was asked to provide the most encouraging aspect of OTAs and minicamp as his team heads into an extended break.
"The focus, the effort, the attitude," Gettleman said. "I think they feel they have unfinished business."
"Every year is new. We are all starting 0-0," he added. "I feel good about where we are at right now. We just have to get into it and see where it goes."
The top storylines heading into training camp will continue to be the competition for the starting offense tackle spots and the development of a remodeled wide receiving corps.
As far as the offensive tackles are concerned, Gettleman feels his team is well-equipped to identify dependable starters.
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"One of the blessings we have is the pass-rushing defensive ends that we've got," Gettleman said. "The toughest days for these (offensive tackles during the season) is going to be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
"We've talked to (the offensive tackles and defensive ends) about helping each other. It's happening, which is really exciting to see. We'll just let nature take its course."
First-round draft choice Kelvin Benjamin has Gettleman excited about the potential of the receiver group. Benjamin made highlight-reel catches over the top of defenders in consecutive days, further solidifying his status as an immediate red zone threat.
"What goes through your mind is the possibilities," Gettleman said in regards to Benjamin's practice performance. "If you can't do it in practice, you are not going to do it in a game. You look at the possibilities with his skills and what he's capable of. It's a confirmation of college scouting and the evaluation process. It's fun, obviously."
When asked for the most discouraging aspect about the offseason workouts, Gettleman had a laugh.
"I've put on five pounds," he said.
As for the players, they'll be expected to arrive at Wofford College for training camp in peak condition to face the physical demands of Spartanburg.
"We have a month off, and I expect these guys to work and to do the things they need to do to come into camp in shape," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Camp is no longer (used) to get in shape. Camp is to refine and make better what you need to."
Rivera's message to the team at the conclusion of minicamp – which Sergeant First Class Cedric King, a double amputee, helped deliver – echoed Gettleman's reference to unfinished business despite the doubters.
"A lot of people aren't expecting much from you. They think last year was a bolt of lightning, and it won't strike twice," Rivera said of the message. "It was neat to have (King) give the guys a parting shot in terms of, 'You know what, let's go out and defy a lot of people.'"