CHARLOTTE - Panthers football is back. Back on the practice fields. Back at Wofford. Back at Fan Fest. It feels good to be back.
After a season like no other with few to no fans, a modified training camp in Charlotte and no preseason games, things feel just a bit more normal this July.
However, there are still some things that fans need to know before making the trek to steamy Spartanburg as training camp kicks off on Wednesday morning.
- Training camp is free and open to the public with first-come, first-serve general seating on the hill alongside Field 2. Standing room is no longer available along the back end zone or the Field 1 entrance, so make sure to come early and get your spots on the hill.
- Fans do not have to wear face coverings or show proof of vaccination, but they do have to register once and acknowledge the NFL's terms and conditions for event attendance.
- There are no autographs this year. Due to NFL-NFLPA protocols, social distancing between fans and players is required, and in-person autographs will not be available. However, fans will be able to enter a free giveaway for autographed items during each practice. Sign up to win every morning via the Panthers app. Must be present at practice to redeem.
- The traditional practice in Gibbs Stadium has been moved to Saturday, July 31, as part of the NFL-wide Back Together Saturday. The event will include on-field performances by the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and Black & Blue Crew, the Mayor's Ball Delivery and activities including face painting, food trucks, interactive games and sponsor activations.
- The Panthers App is your hub for all things Training Camp. Click here to enter the Training Camp Experience.
Even if you won't be able to make it to Spartanburg this year, you can still follow along with exclusive coverage from the Panthers. Every day, post-practice interviews with players and coaches will be live streamed on Panthers Twitter and YouTube as well as Panthers.com and the Panthers app.
During practice, Panthers.com will have live updates from the field as the Panthers digital team gives you views from the sidelines.
Every morning, fans can receive a curated newsletter from senior writer Darin Gantt, who has stories from Wofford camps dating back to 1995. Click here to sign up.
Speaking of Gantt, here's his guide for how to watch this year's camp like a professional:
— Get there early, but be patient: Stretching is serious business. This spring, they practiced how they'll stretch in camp. It's a whole thing. And it takes time. It's obviously for a good reason, but it's a pretty substantial chunk of the day at the beginning of practice, devoted to what looks like a combination of yoga and phys-ed calisthenics.
— Watch the big guys: It's easy to get caught watching the ball. That's what the television will show you. But the real action is in the trenches. One-on-ones between the linemen are some of the best action of camp (the Julius Peppers-Jordan Gross battles were legendary), if you know what to look for. It's going to look like the defense wins almost every snap, but the drills are structured in a way in which the defense has every advantage. Still, with the Panthers trying to settle on offensive line combinations, seeing how those guys hold up against Brian Burns and Haason Reddick and Derrick Brown will be fascinating.
— Turning up the pressure: The quarterbacks are still off-limits to contact, but the speed will definitely turn up a notch during camp. Keep an eye on how Sam Darnold handles the pressure, and how quickly he gets the ball out.
— Pick up the pace: Speaking of quick, the Panthers have a number of guys on the roster with track-star speed. Rookie running back Chuba Hubbard was a top youth sprinter in Canada. But there are a number of guys with the ability to fly. Cornerback Donte Jackson might be the fastest guy here, but there's some competition. Under-the-radar wide receiver Micah Simon ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at BYU's pro day, so if you see him lined up with Jackson, keep your eyes open.
Carolina returns to training camp at Wofford in 2021 after practicing in Charlotte in 2020. View photos of several current Panthers veterans from the 2019 training camp in Spartanburg, S.C.