CHARLOTTE – It sure felt like only a matter of time before the Panthers and Bills got together for joint training camp practices.
This is the year, with Carolina hosting Buffalo in Spartanburg for the final two practices of camp (August 13 and 14) before the two teams square off in a preseason game (August 16) at Bank of America Stadium.
"It's an opportunity for us to get some quality work done," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We've done it before (with the Dolphins in 2015) and had good success. They are high intensity workouts and we can control the whistle and control the environment for our players, particularly our quarterback. We're also giving our guys different looks against different people. There is a little bit more of a challenge, especially for the quarterbacks. I'm pretty excited about that."
The Bills, of course, are led by general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Scott McDermott – both of whom have strong ties to Carolina.
Beane spent 19 seasons with the Panthers, starting out as an intern in the communications department before working his way up to assistant GM. McDermott came to Carolina with head coach Ron Rivera in 2011, serving as the team's defensive coordinator through 2016.
Beane and McDermott both left for promotions in Buffalo ahead of the 2017 season.
"Knowing Ron and Marty (Hurney) and a lot of those coaches and how they do business – you want to get good work and you also want to protect each other – so there is obviously a deep trust that Sean and I have with Ron and Marty," Beane said over the phone.
"Personally, a lot of good memories down there. The first day I started with the Panthers back in 1998 was at Wofford. I've spent over a year of my life in those dorms. It'll be a cool deal for us to see a lot of old faces."
Beane also said the Spartanburg heat – a much different kind of heat than what the Bills players experience in upstate New York – is an attraction for his team as they prepare for the season. And Beane remembered conversing with Dolphins' staff members after they came to Spartanburg for joint practices. He said the folks from Miami raved about the hospitality and set-up.
Now Beane is the one bringing the opposing team to his old stomping grounds at Wofford College.
"I may see if they'll let me sneak in there and get to that yogurt machine," Beane joked. "That was always the highlight of my day down there."