CHARLOTTE - It's finally September!
We've been through OTAs, training camp and the preseason. I can't even begin to tell you how ready we were for the regular season with a stadium full of fans, but DJ Moore's face sums it up perfectly:
Hearing and seeing the fans in the stands brought a feeling of comfort. Things felt right again, and you could tell the players were ready to get the season started.
Shaq Thompson and Jermaine Carter unveiled new numbers for Week 1. I tried grabbing photos of both guys during pregame for our website and social media channels, but kept losing sight of them. Something that often happens when I'm all of 5-foot-1 in a sea of tall athletes.
But once the game started, I positioned myself directly behind Jets quarterback Zach Wilson to get straight-on shots of both single-digit guys:
The new numbers will take some getting used to, but you can't say they weren't out there making plays.
The Panthers' defense is young, fast, and animated. I try to continue shooting after a play is made, hoping to capture a celebration. As a unit, they recorded their most sacks (six) in a game since 2019. Although most are heading into their second or third year in the league, the pieces added in free agency will bring a spark on the field (and likely more sacks).
The end zones were my friend for these next two photos. Sam Darnold was warming up in the endzone pregame, and I was able to kneel off to the side to capture. This was the first look at the 'C' on his chest:
The second photo explains itself, as Darnold made it look easy as he ran in a touchdown:
One of my favorite things about covering this team is the love they show for each other. Moore and Robby Anderson are best friend goals, but they genuinely want each other to succeed. I went behind the bench as Anderson ran back from his touchdown celebration to catch his teammates' reactions:
View the best photos from the field, pre-game and post-game between the Panthers and Jets in Week 1.