CHARLOTTE – Between the cramped living quarters and the cramps brought on by heat on the field and note-taking in the meeting rooms, training camp can be a drag.
First-year Panther but longtime NFL safety Roman Harper admitted as much when he and his teammates reported for camp Thursday, but that's not the feeling that permeated Bank of America Stadium this time around.
For a vast variety of reasons, the Panthers are looking forward to the beginning of camp rather than looking forward to the end of it.
"It's very refreshing to have a new start to really get excited about," said Harper, who signed with the Panthers after spending eight seasons with the rival New Orleans Saints. "There's no way in the world I'd be excited about training camp if I was still in New Orleans, but here it's different. It's the start of something fresh and new for my family.
"I'm looking forward to the work, to the sweat and grind of training camp."
While there's a novelty for Harper to this training camp, which kicks off Friday with Fan Fest, other players have other reasons for embracing it.
For offensive lineman Nate Chandler, it doesn't matter that camp is starting in Charlotte rather than at Wofford College this season. His excitement comes from the return to football and the continuation of his quest to prove himself worthy of the contract extension he signed last month.
"I've seen a lot of smiles on guys' faces. We're excited to get back to football," Chandler said. "We have a chip on our shoulder and know what we're capable of doing. It's going to be an exciting year.
"We're ready to attack this season and give it all we've got going into camp no matter where we are. Spartanburg or Charlotte, we have the same mindset."
While Chandler is aiming to move from guard to tackle one year after moving from defense to offense, a position change isn't the only thing motivating Charles Godfrey. He spent his first six seasons at safety but is moving to cornerback this season – a challenge that only adds to the excitement he already felt given that an Achilles injury ended his 2013 season after less than two games.
"Considering what I've gone through – not playing since the second game of last season – I've been waiting for this moment to get here and it finally is," Godfrey said. "It feels good. Everybody is back and excited, ready for good things."
It's much the same story for guard Amini Silatolu, who played in three games last year before a knee injury ended his season barely before it got off the ground.
"I've been eager to get back since October," he said. "Now is my chance to show what I've got and what I can do."
Of all the reasons players are fired up about training camp, Silatolu's last statement says it all. Coming off a 12-4 season that ended with a disappointing loss in first of what they hoped would be multiple playoff games, players and coaches have been counting the minutes.
"A lot of us were here two hours, three hours before we needed to be," tight end Greg Olsen said. "We're coming back with a different sort of energy than we had last year. In the past, we were trying get back on track. This year, we're trying to pick up where we left off.
"It kind of feels like we have unfinished business after losing last year in the playoffs. Guys are excited, and we feel good about the team we have coming back. We've got a lot of work to do before the first game, of course, and it all starts today."