After a few days spent in Spartanburg watching and listening to the Carolina Panthers as they begin their 21st training camp, here are three quick impressions.
1. Never has Cam Newton seemed more in charge. Although his leadership skills have increased a little every year, Newton in this training camp is obviously “The Man” more than he ever has been. And he has already made several remarkable 30-yard throws with touch – the sort of ball he has often struggled with in the past.
2. Ted Ginn Jr. is going to help once again. Newton has an obvious comfort level with Ginn, and Ginn still has the speed after a year away in Arizona. As Ginn returned one kickoff Friday night, teammate Kurt Coleman whistled as he went by and said, “Oooh! That is fast!”
3. New cornerback Charles Tillman will be fun. During his first training-camp interview, Tillman wore a T-shirt that featured the character “Squints” from the 1993 baseball movie “The Sandlot.”
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“He’s the one who pretends like he’s drowning so he can kiss the lifeguard, remember?” Tillman asked.
In his interview, he also tossed off a perfect reference to one of the best horror movies of all time – “The Exorcist.” And he mentioned that he planned to make his dorm room at Wofford College look like “a meth lab” – not because of drugs, but because of the aluminum foil he was going to cover the windows because he is so sensitive to light when he is trying to fall asleep.