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2013 CAROLINA PANTHERS TRAINING CAMP | Spartanburg, S.C.

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Justin Wells returns for a 2nd try at his NFL dream with Carolina Panthers

SPARTANBURG, S.C. After being one of the final players cut at the end of last year’s Panthers training camp, Justin Wells is back.

“It hits you in your heart when you sit down and think about all the hard work you put in for somebody to tell you you weren’t good enough,” Wells said of not making last season’s roster. “At the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to.”

Wells, an offensive guard who graduated from St. Augustine’s with a degree in political science, returned to his hometown of Baltimore. He taught at Westside Elementary School and worked as a security guard while training for another shot at the NFL.

Now he’s back in Spartanburg, S.C., trying again to make his dreams come true.

Wells said he considered giving up football.

“But I felt like I needed to finish what I accomplished in football first,” Wells said. “I’m not the type of person to be a quitter. When things get tough, you’ve just got to keep fighting.”

While at home, Wells worked out regularly and dropped 15 pounds, entering camp at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds in hopes of being nimbler this time around.

Even though he was just with the organization for a few weeks last year, Wells said coaches view him differently in year two.

“The expectation level is a lot higher so now I’ve got to produce a lot more,” Wells said. “They expect me to pick up things a little bit faster.”

Wells added that coaches are no longer satisfied with flashes of ability; they want to see consistency. Wells missed one practice last week because of illness and is currently battling a dislocated finger, but he still hopes to make the team.

The final roster will be announced Aug. 31. Wells is one of five guards on the training camp roster. His best chance of making the team would likely come as a member of practice squad, which consists of eight players who practice with the team but cannot play on game day. NFL teams are allowed to add players from other teams’ practice squads to their 53-man roster at any point throughout the year.

After his playing days are over, Wells hopes to return to Baltimore and enter the political world.

“I feel like back home in my community, I can make a difference,” Wells said. “I want to make a difference in Baltimore.”

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