Inside the Panthers

Panthers need sense of urgency as camp opens

Carolina Panthers report to Spartanburg’s Wofford College on Thursday for the start of training camp.
Carolina Panthers report to Spartanburg’s Wofford College on Thursday for the start of training camp. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith used to time his arrival to Spartanburg so he checked in to the dorms just before the late-morning deadline. Smith would pull up to the curb – one year in a convertible VW bug – and have a locker room attendant unload his training camp gear, which usually included a large, flat-screen TV.

Retired offensive tackle Jordan Gross would cruise around campus in a golf cart, and defensive end Charles Johnson’s hyperbaric chamber arrived at Wofford before he did this week.

But as players fill up the spartan dorms with their high-end accessories from home Thursday, the most important thing they can bring is a sense of urgency.

The Panthers have traditionally been slow starters under Ron Rivera, who doesn’t want to prioritize one portion of the schedule above the rest. Last year the Panthers got off to a decent start before a rough midseason stretch nearly derailed their playoff train.

The Panthers have been strong closers under Rivera. But there’s nothing wrong with generating momentum at the start of the season, as well.

That process begins with Friday’s first practice.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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