Skip to main content

Preparing for potentially record-setting cold 

D'Onta Foreman

CHARLOTTE – D'Onta Foreman felt it Tuesday when his hands grew cold and numb during a late December practice. He said that hits feel different in the frigid air, and playing football is rougher on his hands when it isn't warm anymore.

"That hurts so bad," Foreman, a native Texan, said. "It's just a weird feeling. … That's the difference."

It was 41 degrees and cloudy in Charlotte, almost toasty compared to plenty of other NFL cities around this time of year. The Browns expect snow showers and 13-degree weather for their game against New Orleans on Saturday.

Still, the Panthers brought heaters out onto the practice field, and players frequented the sidelines to place their hands and heads in front of it, with safety Myles Hartsfield filling his helmet with hot air at one point between reps.

They're going to have to get used to it, though, because Saturday's matchup with the Lions could be the coldest home game in the Panthers' history. Forecasts predict potential high temperatures in the low 30s, with wind chills dipping below 20 degrees.

The coldest game at Bank of America Stadium kicked off at 30 degrees when the Panthers played the Saints on Jan. 3, 2010.

And Tuesday wasn't even as chilly as the weekend's forecast, so interim coach Steve Wilks saw no issue with opting to practice outdoors.

"Last I've checked, the Bank of America (Stadium) doesn't have a dome," Wilks said. "We've got to be outside, so that's the reason why we were out there today."

Chuba Hubbard

Some players didn't let the cold affect what they wore outside. DJ Moore, Shi Smith, Austin Corbett, and Chuba Hubbard were among the Panthers who still wore shorts in the chilly conditions, along with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

It makes sense for the Canadian Hubbard because it's minus 21 degrees in his native Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Northern Alberta is under an extreme cold warning because wind chills are dipping into minus 40 and colder.

So no, it isn't as bad in North Carolina. But it's still smart to prepare for it.

Safety Sam Franklin Jr. went to college at Temple in Philadelphia and said he could deal with the cold. He knows how to use the heater to keep his gloves, helmet, and jacket warm for when he's on the sidelines.

Franklin said he wouldn't be wearing sleeves Saturday. Instead, he'll lather his skin in a "special concoction" that keeps him warm throughout the game.

"I'll put on my go-go juice, and I'll be fine," Franklin said. "That's what I did when we played in Buffalo last year; did that, I played (in) no sleeves. … It's more of a mental thing if you ask me. If you don't really think about the cold, you're not going to get a cold."

Kicker Eddy Piñeiro, a Florida native who previously played in Chicago, knows a thing or two about how temperatures can change the kicking game. 

Piñeiro said the football "feels like a rock" in the cold because it hardens up and doesn't travel the same way as it does when the weather is warmer.

"It's the same technique; (the) ball's probably not going to go as far or as high," Piñeiro said. "Usually, when you kick in the cold, it doesn't go as high or as far. But as far as practicing, it's pretty much keeping it the same and hoping it gets warmer." 

Wilks has often said he tells the team not to concern themselves with "it" – whether "it" is noise from outside commentary or uncontrollable factors like the weather.

Plus, they have played in a cold weather game this year. It was 36 degrees with a wind chill of 26 at kickoff time in Baltimore a few weeks ago.

"We don't let 'it' get in the way," Wilks said. "We went to Baltimore, and it was pretty cold up there. I felt like we endured that and played a pretty good game. Didn't come away with a win, but the weather is not an issue." 

Heaters will be running on the sideline, and fans should bundle up for the last home game of the regular season. Though not everyone loves dealing with the cold weather that could set a franchise record, Foreman, who admitted he'd prefer to play in heat over cold, isn't dreading Saturday. 

"It's football weather, definitely in December," Foreman said. "Looking forward to it. It should be a good one."

View photos from Tuesday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on the Lions.

Related Content