13 things we learned at the Carolina Panthers’ first practice of training camp for the 2017 season, at Wofford College on Wednesday night.
▪ Quarterback Cam Newton made his first public throws in weeks as he warmed up with backup quarterback Derek Anderson. Newton is leaner than he was last season, and head coach Ron Rivera confirmed Newton was “around 246 pounds,” the closest he’s been to hitting his roster weight (245) in a while.
▪ Newton didn’t appear to have a pitch count as he threw a lot of footballs (although no deep balls) in his first practice of camp. He had shoulder surgery in March to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. And his shoulder was healthy enough to milly rock.
▪ Receiver Kelvin Benjamin also appeared to be leaner than in weeks past, and quick off the ball.
▪ Let the kicking competition begin: Veteran Graham Gano went 4-for-5, long of 56. Rookie Harrison Butker was 2-for-4, missing right from 49 and 56.
▪ Julius Peppers still has quite a burst. Even if the 37-year-old defensive end had not been wearing his iconic number 90, he would have been easy to spot in the defensive line drills because of his quickness off the ball.
▪ Speaking of 30-something defenders, safety Mike Adams made one of the most acrobatic plays of the practice. Playing center field as another cornerback defended rookie Curtis Samuel, Adams closed with a flash to make a diving interception when the ball was batted. It is possible he was out of bounds but it was still quite a play.
▪ Wide receiver Austin Duke, a former Charlotte 49er, probably needs to make at least one big play a day to make this squad, and he did it on Wednesday by getting open deep and hauling in a 50-yard throw from Joe Webb that earned Duke a crossfield run and celebration from Cam Newton, who kept screaming: "Dukie!"
▪ Second-year cornerback James Bradberry looks primed for a good camp. He made his weight Tuesday and then got a big jump on a Newton sideline throw to Russell Shepard, which Bradberry cleanly intercepted.
▪ Mario Addison was with the first group at defensive end opposite Peppers. Charles Johnson, who might be limited, did participate in practice.
▪ Several TV cameras were tracking new interim GM Marty Hurney, who spent the past four years working in the media as owner of ESPN730. A fan in the front row yelled at Hurney: “Good to have you back Marty!” Hurney smiled.
▪ Nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn sat out with a hamstring injury he sustained last week, and began the team’s workout on the stationary bike.
▪ With Ryan Kalil still limited after season-ending shoulder surgery last year, Tyler Larsen took the first-team reps at center. Larsen, who ended last season as the starter, worked ahead of veteran Gino Gradkowski.
▪ Wide receiver Devin Funchess left practice on a cart with cramps, but not before Newton came over to check on him.