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Players can't wait to tap into the dark side

Black Helmets

CHARLOTTE — For years, Panthers fans have wondered what a black helmet would look like.

And now, as they're about to be unveiled on Thursday Night Football against the Falcons, DJ Moore can't wait to see what they feel like.

Of course, it's the same kind of helmet he wears all the time, just a different paint job. But the star wideout knows that the all-black uniform with the first-of-its-kind helmet could bring a different energy.

"I love them for Thursday night. Can't wait to see them on under the lights," Moore said this week. "Heck yeah, it's different; you have a different swag, a different feel.

"You look good, you play good. So I'm excited for it."

Players got a chance to wear the black helmets on the practice field this week for the first time, to make sure everything fit the same and felt right. Once confirmed, some of them tried to make it as normal as possible, but you can tell they liked the look.

"We don't see the color from the inside," cornerback Donte Jackson joked. "But they are going to be fire with that all-black uniform."

For some players, changing helmets isn't a big deal, since college programs have multiple alternate paint schemes for helmets (Moore remembered the outside-the-box Maryland flag design from his college days. And rookie left tackle Ikem Ekwonu remembered at least four variations of helmets he wore at NC State. But growing up in Charlotte, he's only seen the one on the Panthers, so he admitted this was nice.

"It feels like history," Ekwonu said.

Speaking of history, long snapper JJ Jansen has played 218 games for the Panthers, and every single one of them has been in a silver helmet (though he was here before and after the 2012 logo redesign).

"There will be a few moments, I'm sure, where I'm not sure what I'm looking at," Jansen said with a nod, as he looked through the locker room where he's stood for 14 seasons, used to seeing rows of silver helmets hanging in his line of vision.

"It's a new look. It's a cool look. It looked good on the practice field."

Center Bradley Bozeman's not one of those guys with a lot of experience in alternate uniforms (he played at Alabama, one of the places where the current ones are also the throwbacks). But he also spent the last four years with the Ravens, so tonight won't be his first time wearing black-on-black, and he appreciates it.

Asked who looked best in this combination, his answer was fast: "The offensive line, absolutely. The all-white is not flattering for the offensive line. The all-black makes us look slimmer."

But even if you're skinny, and even if you've had alternate uniforms in the past, there's still a sense of excitement about wearing this combination for the first time.

"Oh yeah, it's going to pop," cornerback Jaycee Horn said. "Can't wait."

The Panthers are ready in all-black for Thursday night.

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