SPARTANBURG, S.C. – It was a fitting end to training camp at Wofford College on Tuesday as the heat finally returned before the Panthers packed things up and headed back to Charlotte.
In reviewing his fourth Panthers' camp, head coach Ron Rivera said he only wishes there was a little more heat a little more often.
"Very happy with what we accomplished," Rivera said. "It was a good camp – everything except for the heat. I wish we could have had more consistent heat. We are a little deficient in that. We had a bunch of guys cramp up yesterday and today.
"That's not good because Tampa Bay (in the regular season opener) is going to be hot. There is a toughness that gets built out of practicing in the heat, and we didn't get enough of it. Hopefully, we can get a real good shot of heat in the next few days (in Charlotte)."
Offensive tackle Nate Chandler and tight end Greg Olsen were two players who suffered from cramps, and Rivera stressed the importance of hydration to his team after practice.
There were a lot of fresh faces thrown into the mix at key positions at training camp, and center Ryan Kalil felt they assimilated well.
"We lost some guys that were in the system and knew what they were doing, so the biggest thing was throwing a lot of information at these young guys and seeing how they can manage," Kalil explained. "For the most part, we didn't miss a beat. They did a real good job, and that's a huge accomplishment because you don't want to have to start back from the ABCs."
As for what Rivera learned about the various position battles during camp, he was pleased with the offensive line's progress, with Byron Bell emerging at left tackle and Chandler manning the right side.
"For the most part, we have a good handle on where we are with offensive line," Rivera said. "Some guys have stepped up and put themselves in position to help us. I'm excited about that. "
Added general manager Dave Gettleman: "I think you can see that we're pretty close to settling on the group. Now it's a matter of them learning to play with each other, of getting comfortable and trusting each other."
At wide receiver, Rivera agreed when asked if first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin and veteran free agent acquisitions Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant had separated themselves as the top three.
"Yes, they have," Rivera said. "Those three guys have meshed really nicely."
The defensive backs, and more specifically the cornerbacks, remain a question.
"You'd like to have that sorted out in the next week or so," Rivera said. "We are going to give some guys some big-time opportunities to find out what that secondary is going to be."
Said Gettleman: "On the back end of the defense, we like the talent. We're happy with that. It's just a matter of people rising to the top and putting their foot in the ground and saying, 'It's my job.'"
Lastly, Rivera is not concerned about any of the injured regulars, namely defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) and safety Roman Harper (toe).
"I am not concerned," Rivera said. "It's just a matter of time before they are all out there."