SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In left tackle Jordan Gross' mind, the worst is behind him.
But is the worst heat behind Gross and the Panthers?
Only time and the thermometer will tell.
"I was kind of spreading the word from experience that the first day is the worst day," Gross said after the Panthers exited the field late Thursday morning having tackled a heat index of 105 degrees. "I really think the first practice is the worst one of the whole season because you're just not used to it and you haven't hit anybody in awhile.
"It's kind of a gut-check. You can run and lift and do as much as you want, but there's nothing like Spartanburg and full pads."
Linebacker Dan Connor, a Pennsylvania native, chose to work out in Charlotte over the summer in part to acclimate to the heat, but nothing could prepare him for Thursday's scorcher.
"Heat-wise, it was tough to even breathe with the humidity," Connor said. "It was tough weather and a tough practice, but that's how you're going to get better. You've got to push yourself.
"First days are always tough. You kill yourself over the summer, but you can't really emulate that first practice with full pads and hitting and running. It was a tough practice and a wake-up call for a lot of guys."
It might not have felt like what people traditionally refer to as "football weather," but defensive end Everette Brown still thought it qualified.
"The good thing about training camp is that you have pads on, so it's football," Brown said. "A guy can look like an All-American in shorts, but when the pads come on, everybody is different.
"That's what training camp is all about."
Clausen's camp debut: Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen admitted that the heat took him by surprise in his debut, but he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
"It was a dream come true being out there. I've worked hard my whole life to get to this point," said Clausen, who signed less than 24 hours before the first practice kicked off. "My agent, Gary Wichard, and (general manager) Marty (Hurney) and the whole organization did a great job of working together to get everything worked out so I could be here for Day One."
Clausen took snaps with the third team, behind Matt Moore and Hunter Cantwell, but he reiterated that he's not content with place on the depth chart.
"That's how you have to think," he said. "When you go out to practice, you want to do everything you can to be the starting quarterback. But at the end of the day, I can only control what I can control, and the coaches are going to make the decisions on who's going to play and who's not going to play."
That's the ticket: Single-game tickets for Panthers' 2010 home games will go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.
Tickets will be available via Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at 1-800-745-3000; at www.ticketmaster.com; and at Ticketmaster Ticket Centers throughout the Carolinas. Fans planning to purchase at a Ticketmaster Ticket Center should arrive by 9 a.m. to receive a random number that will be drawn at 10 a.m.
Approximately 7,000 single-game tickets are available for each home game and are priced from $39-97 plus applicable service charges. Fans may purchase up to 12 tickets per game.
Odds and ends: Many so-called experts doubt that the Panthers will even make the playoffs this season, but Gross doesn't see that as a bad thing. "I don't think our odds in Vegas are probably very good to win the Super Bowl, but that's fine with me," he said. "I like where we're at. There aren't a lot of eyes on us nationally, and I think that's good with the young team that we have. I think we can use that to our advantage." … Defensive end Charles Johnson and linebacker Jamar Williams suffered hamstring injuries in the early practice and sat out the late one. They're listed as day-to-day. … Cornerback Chris Gamble made one of the top plays in the early practice, stepping in front of Dwayne Jarrett to pick off a Moore pass. … In the late practice, linebacker Quinton Culberson picked off Clausen.