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Snow doesn't slow Panthers

CHARLOTTE – There was snow piled up on the ground and more falling from the sky, but the Panthers went about their business on a frigid Friday like they always do.

It was a workmanlike approach with a healthy dose of Panther personality ahead of Sunday's NFC Championship.

"(Defensive end) Mario Addison said it best: 'The elements may change, but we don't.' We don't change who we are," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We went out and practiced, and the guys had great energy. They really were focused in on what they needed to do today with the exception of a couple of guys making snow angels out there."

Said running back Fozzy Whittaker: "It was fun. We know this opportunity doesn't come every year, so we're trying to make the most of it no matter where we're practicing. We just want to become better so we can be the best team possible on Sunday."

Rivera was very proud of his team's execution in the challenging conditions.

"On the offensive side, I don't think we dropped a pass," Rivera said. "That was really good to see, despite the conditions – raining, sleeting, snow, hail, whatever it was – guys focused and our tempo was really good."

Added Addison: "We went through our Friday prep like we normally do. You can't let 'it' get in the way."

The winter storm is expected to continue into Saturday but should clear out for the game. The Bank of America Stadium field, criticized by some for being slippery after being pelted by rain hours before last Sunday's playoff game, is currently covered by a tarp but also by snow and ice.

"I think too much is being made of the field situation because the truth of the matter is, this is January," said Rivera, adding that players will have plenty of time to choose the right cleats. "Any grass fields throughout the league – with the exception of Arizona because they have that indoor/outdoor thing – that's what's going to happen. You're going to play in these types of conditions. That's football."

TRIO HONORED: The awards just keep rolling in.

Quarterback Cam Newton and head coach Ron Rivera have been named winners of the NFL 101  NFC Offensive Player of the Year and NFC Coach of the Year, respectively. In addition, cornerback Josh Norman has been named Co-Most Improved Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Newton, named MVP and Offensive Player of the Year earlier this week by the PFWA, has been invited to accept his NFL 101 at the Kansas City organization's 46th annual awards gala March 5. Same goes for Rivera, named PFWA Coach of the Year earlier in the week.

Norman shared the PFWA most improved honor with Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Cardinals.

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