That Carolina is wearing its alternate blue jerseys for the two away games in Florida is no mistake.
The Panthers don’t want to be in black jerseys for their trips to Florida, the first of which comes this Sunday in Jacksonville, where temperatures could be in the mid-80s with some humidity.
“It is tough. It really is,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of starting the season in a warm-weather city. “To open up, and if we had been opening up here it would have been tough too – a little more comfortable because you would have been at home, but you go on the road and try to deal with it.”
The Panthers can wear their electric blue alternate jerseys just twice in a season, and usually they reserve at least one of those times for a home game. Carolina did get an exception to the NFL rule and will be able to wear the blue jerseys a third time on Thanksgiving at Dallas.
But with two games in Florida in the first four weeks of the season and the home team wearing white, the Panthers opted to use their alternates in Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.
Defensive tackle Kawann Short, who at 315 pounds has been recovering from back spasms, said he stayed after practice on Wednesday and Thursday – both hot days – to acclimate himself better.
“I don’t know what their temperature is down there or how humid it’s going to be but I’ve been staying after trying to get a little extra conditioning,” Short said. “These last two days helped. Big ups to the weather that was here. It was crazy out there but you survive. It’s gotten us right for the weekend.”
The Panthers will likely be on the sideline that has less shade, one of the tough parts of playing away from home. Rivera said the team will take extra people to hold screens above the benches to keep players cool.
Because Carolina practiced Saturday and Monday, Rivera was able to cut one period out of each practice Wednesday and Thursday to save his players’ legs.
Along with the two recent hot days, the Panthers also had the benefit of spending three weeks of training camp in Spartanburg, where they could get used to the heat.
But Ted Ginn Jr., who spent three seasons in Miami with the Dolphins, said Florida heat is one of a kind.
“With (Jacksonville) being up north a little bit, we should get some type of cold breeze from somewhere,” Ginn said.