The Panthers have reached the dog days of training camp.
They’ve completed nine of their scheduled 14 practices at Wofford and can start to see the finish line. But they’re not done yet ... and it’s hot.
Enter the Houston Texans.
The Panthers will take a break from hitting each other Wednesday night for their first preseason game against the Texans, who had the NFL’s No. 1 defense in 2016 despite missing defensive end J.J. Watt most of the season.
While not slighting Houston, Carolina tight end Ed Dickson said the Panthers’ defense has some starters he’s tired of seeing.
“I love Luke (Kuechly), but to (not) see him in the A gap every once in a while (would be good),” Dickson said. “I’ll be happy to hit someone else – a different color (jersey). And just see who you are. It’s been a while since we’ve played games.”
Sunday was the Panthers’ hottest practice in Spartanburg, with temperatures in the low 90s. Afterward head coach Ron Rivera said he could start to see players getting frustrated.
It’s not just the players. Rivera said camp practices are hard to evaluate as coaches because while the tempo is fast, the drills do not include tackling or full contact.
“You don’t get a real sense and feel,” Rivera said. “That’s what’s so important about having the preseason games because now it gets ratcheted up one more notch and you really do see where you are.”
For the Panthers’ tight ends, backs and offensive tackles, facing edge rushers J.J. Watt – who is expected to play Wednesday after having two back surgeries last year – and Jadeveon Clowney should give them a good idea of where their blocking stacks up.
“If (Watt) is out there, we’re going to give him some love taps,” Dickson said. “I respect their defense. I watched them a lot very closely, to see the things that they do. If they get to play, I’m excited to go compete against them.”