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Carolina Panthers offense, Spartanburg weather equally dreary on Thursday

PANTHERS0801_05
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) stands in the pocket as rain falls during Thursday’s practice at Wofford College. Newton was inadvertently kicked in the left shin during practice.

SPARTANBURG As the overcast Spartanburg skies brought rain for the first time at Carolina Panthers training camp, Cam Newton and the offense struggled more than any other practice this preseason.

A steady rain fell for most of practice, and dropped passes and high throws were just as steady throughout Thursday morning.

Newton consistently struggled to get into a rhythm and find his grip on the wet ball. Known to miss his throws high, Newton would either throw above his receivers’ heads or lead them too much.

“He was (off) a little bit early in practice,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We repeated one of the segments for him and he was perfect then. Just watching him, trying to get him in a rhythm, and once he got in a rhythm he practiced very well down the stretch.”

Newton also dealt with getting kicked in the shin during practice. Midway through practice Newton had a shin guard taped to his left foot, the same one he had surgically repaired four months ago.

Rivera wouldn’t blame the performance on the rain. With no dome at Bank of America Stadium and only two away games in domes, the Panthers have 14 outdoor games this season, and the team must be prepared to play in the bad weather.

Last year the Panthers won a pivotal late-season contest against New Orleans in bad weather, and in Rivera’s first season, Carolina beat Jacksonville in a pseudo-flood at Bank of America Stadium.

Rivera just wished Thursday’s practice could have followed Tuesday, which Rivera said was the best practice of camp. But with the new collective bargaining agreement, the team had to take 24 hours off.

“I would have loved to been able to go back-to-back practices after that last practice,” Rivera said. “That was about one of the best practices I’ve been involved with since I’ve been here. I would have loved to maintain that and come back with a really good one back to back. We practiced pretty doggone well considering the conditions today.”

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