CHARLOTTE – Panthers coaches can't wait to see their seven draft picks at the team's rookie minicamp this weekend, but they could actually get to see around nine times that many players in action.
Nearly 60 players are expected to take part in the three-day camp that kicks off Friday: the seven draft picks, 12 undrafted rookie free agents, five veterans relatively speaking who don't have an accrued NFL season, and 32 players essentially trying out for the team.
"This gives us an opportunity to see what these guys are capable of," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "It will give us a chance to observe our draft picks, to see how they are and where they are, and to see how they pick up our basic fundamentals. We'll also get to watch our guys from last year that are eligible, to see how they're progressing.
"We'll also get an opportunity to see our rookie free agents that we signed coming out of the draft, as well as a group of guys who are trying out that we're going to see if maybe they can help us out eventually."
First and foremost, the coaching staff is excited about seeing the fruits of their draft-related labor: linebacker Luke Kuechly, guard Amini Silatolu, defensive end Frank Alexander, wide receiver Joe Adams, cornerback Josh Norman, punter Brad Nortman and safety D.J. Campbell.
Panthers participating because they have less than a year of NFL experience include safety Jonathan Nelson – who intercepted a pass against Tampa Bay late last year – two players who spent time on the Panthers' practice squad last season in tight end Greg Smith and safety Reggie Sullivan, and two players signed in the offseason in wide receiver Chris Manno and kicker Justin Medlock.
The 12 undrafted rookie free agents include a pair of players many expected to be drafted in Tennessee running back Tauren Poole and Brigham Young offensive tackle Matt Reynolds.
One thing missing from those groups? Someone to throw the ball.
"But what we will have is a couple of guys who have been in NFL camps, one that has been with us before," Rivera said. "We're pretty excited about it."
The tryout players include a pair of quarterbacks in Dalton Bell and Jarrett Brown. The Panthers signed Bell as an undrafted rookie free agent out of West Texas A&M in 2007, and he's been in the Canadian Football League since 2008. Brown, who played collegiately at West Virginia, has spent time the past two seasons on practice squads with the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts.
|DE||C.J. Ah You||6-4||265||29||4||Oklahoma||Highland, Utah|
|LB||Will Andrews||6-0||228||23||R||Montana State Northern||Sandpoint, Idaho|
|LB||Mike Asiedu||6-3||221||21||R||Wesley College||Yonkers, N.Y.|
|WR||Michael Avila||5-9||170||23||R||San Jose State||Seaside, Calif.|
|CB||Anthony Barnes||6-1||194||24||2||Norfolk State||Virginia Beach, Va.|
|QB||Dalton Bell||6-2||207||29||1||West Texas A&M||Canyon, Texas|
|QB||Jarrett Brown||6-3||225||24||1||West Virginia||West Palm Beach, Fla.|
|DE||Kenneth Charles||6-3||266||23||1||Stephen F. Austin||Missouri City, Texas|
|DT||Landon Cohen||6-3||300||25||4||Ohio||Spartanburg, S.C.|
|C||Jon Cooper||6-2||291||25||3||Oklahoma||Fort Collins, Colo.|
|S||Jon Corto||6-1||212||27||5||Sacred Heart||Orchard Park, N.Y.|
|RB||James Davis||5-11||218||26||3||Clemson||Atlanta, Ga.|
|LB||Brandon Denson||5-11||230||24||1||Michigan State||Willow Run, Mich.|
|G||Terence Edge||6-2||295||23||R||Alabama-Birmingham||Atlanta, Ga.|
|WR||Dominique Edison||6-2||201||25||2||Stephen F. Austin||San Augustine, Texas|
|S||Dominique Harris||6-2||213||25||1||Temple||Washington, D.C.|
|T||Aaron Jones||6-4||360||24||1||Holy Cross||Springfield, Ohio|
|FB||Ben Jorden||6-2||250||24||R||Appalachian State||Charlotte, N.C.|
|FB||Ricky Kay||6-3||243||23||1||Central Florida||Deltona, Fla.|
|G||William Maxwell||6-1||294||23||R||Georgia Southern||Quitman, Ga.|
|C||Pat Murray||6-3||316||25||1||Truman State||Fort Dodge, Iowa|
|LB||David Nixon||6-3||225||27||4||Brigham Young||College Station, Texas|
|TE||Schuylar Oordt||6-7||246||24||1||Northern Iowa||Parkersburg, Iowa|
|CB||Romeo Pellum||5-10||179||23||1||Hampton||Long Beach, Calif.|
|DT||Carlton Powell||6-3||312||26||1||Virginia Tech||Chesapeake, Va.|
|LS||Preston Powers||6-1||258||24||1||Mississippi||Collierville, Tenn.|
|T||Andre Ramsey||6-5||322||24||1||Ball State||Cordele, Ga.|
|DE||Nick Reed||6-1||248||24||2||Oregon||Trabuco Canyon, Calif.|
|CB||Devon Torrence||6-0||190||23||1||Ohio State||Canton, Ohio|
|LB||Nick Webb||6-4||245||25||R||Weber State||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|G||Justin Wells||6-6||318||24||1||St. Augustine||Baltimore, Md.|
|RB||Jonathan Williams||6-0||204||23||1||East Carolina||Greenville, N.C.|
The rookie camp is taking place on the weekend per the Collective Bargaining Agreement because the rookie class is still in school. The camp comes in the midst of Phase Two of offseason workouts, a three-week period that began on April 30 in which coaches can provide individual instruction.
"That's been outstanding," Rivera said. "We've had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with our guys, to do a lot of group and individual work with the offense on one field and the defense on the other. We can see what everybody is retaining and how they're learning. Then in Phase Three, we'll get into the OTAs where we can do some offense against defense, and then we'll finish up with our minicamp."
Phase Three begins May 21, a four-week period that will culminate with a mandatory veteran minicamp June 12-14. Rookies also are allowed to participate.