CHARLOTTE – If you haven't heard already, it's supposed to be cold in Minneapolis on Sunday. That's generally the case for the Midwest in late November.
This season, the Vikings are playing games at TCF Bank Stadium, an outdoor venue that's home to the University of Minnesota. That means the Panthers will be battling the cold as they try to end a five-game losing streak.
"You can't let it be a factor," said tight end Greg Olsen, who became familiar with cold temperatures during his four seasons with the Chicago Bears. "I don't have any tips. Put on long sleeves, don't try to be a tough guy and go play."
Said quarterback Joe Webb, who spent four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings: "You just have to make sure you dress properly. There are ways to beat it, but it's all mental."
If the forecast of 15 degrees holds, it would be the second-coldest game in Carolina history.
The 1997 NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, where it was three degrees, is comfortably in first place.
When asked what impact the cold might have on his team, head coach Ron Rivera put it simply: "The bottom line is they've got to play in it, too. Both teams are going to play in the cold weather, we just have to handle it."
FIRST HALF EMPHASIS: The Panthers have scored one first-half touchdown in their last six games.
It's a startling statistic that needs to change.
"It's not good, and it's not fun," center Ryan Kalil said. "It's not fun for the defense either. We have to do our part. We haven't done a good job getting into a rhythm and staying ahead of the chains. A lot of three-and-outs. That's frustrating. That's the focus this week for us."
HEALTH UPDATES: Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and wide receiver Philly Brown were the only players to miss practice on Wednesday.
Lotulelei continued rehab work on his ankle by running in the pool. Rivera said he is "still struggling" with discomfort.
Brown was sent home due to illness.
"Hopefully, whatever it is, it's a 24-hour thing," Rivera said.
TURKEY DAY? Turkey is the traditional centerpiece of Thanksgiving meals, but some Panthers plan to call an audible.
Safety Thomas DeCoud and his family will have turkey in respect of the tradition, but they prefer lamb and a stew made from shrimp, corn and okra. Philly Brown makes no bones about what he thinks of turkey.
"I don't like turkey," Brown said on Monday. "Ham and mashed potatoes really are all I'll eat. I'll probably go over to somebody's house and get some ham and mashed potatoes, because I can't cook."
For quarterback Cam Newton, it isn't a question of whether or not he likes turkey. As a pesceterian – someone who eats no meat except seafood – Newton will look elsewhere for his Thanksgiving treats.
"This is the hardest time being a pescetarian – during the holidays. But I make it with sweets and deserts," Newton said. "My thing I look forward to is sweet potatoes – 'yams' as we call them in the South. They've got to be real sweet. I also love lemonade, Kool-Aid. My mom makes a fusion – the orange with the strawberry with the cherry and some pineapple juice.
"Ya'll can come to Atlanta, and I can teach you some things about eating. You don't have to eat meat all the time."