The dog days of training camp are upon us and the heat of Spartanburg, S.C. is taking it's toll on the players of the Carolina Panthers slowly, but surely.
The Panthers have been at it since Saturday, July 28, and some players have begun to leave their mark on the fields of Wofford College where the Panthers have practiced since the franchise was founded in 1995.
Let's take a look now at observations and thoughts from Panthers camp:
• Cam Newton has struggled. EVERYONE PANIC. I know it's just camp, but the sophomore signal caller has had his fair share of interceptions and poor reads so far in camp.
You can credit some of that to a healthy defense that is finally understanding what defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is wanting to do and also a new 3-4 scheme that is being implemented by the staff. Whatever it is, Newton hasn't looked his best on throws, but let's not get ahead of ourselves folks, it's early.
• The wide receivers haven't exactly helped out the quarterbacks either. There have been plenty of drops, from the newbies and undrafted rookies, to the veterans. Steve Smith has stone-handed a couple along with Brandon LaFell and some of the tight ends. Chemistry and timing will have to be greatly improved before preseason ball rolls around.
• Linebacker Jyles Tucker, who was signed as a free agent from San Diego this offseaon, was released from the team Monday. It has been confirmed that the reason was he wanted to gain weight. That's a first for me.
• Thomas Davis has been wearing a very noticeable, bulky brace on his surgically-repaired knee. It hasn't stopped him from playing at full-speed, but he has had to take himself out on some plays and it looked to have been bothering him on occasion.
• Rookie first-round pick Luke Kuechly has looked like everything Panthers fans were hoping for. He attacks the ballcarrier with aggression, diagnoses pass plays with ease, and breaks on balls like a defensive back. If he keeps improving at this rate, you are looking at your defensive player of the year.
• A lot of talk around camp has been about rookie cornerback Josh Norman from Coastal Carolina. He has been fearless since he has become a Panther and has even gotten under the skin of Steve Smith a couple of times. His confidence along with great ball-skills could push him ahead of the team's second corner Captain Munnerlynn by the time the regular season starts.
• Kicker Justin Medlock was signed this offseason to compete with Olindo Mare who struggled last season for the Panthers. So far, he is getting equal reps with Mare most days and is pushing him to his limit. He has connected on numerous 50-yard field goals in practice and has drawn cheers from the fans. Game situations and practice are two different things, but I do know that he would be the cheaper option.
• Tuesday's rain-fest practice was highlighted by 'redzone situations' where the Panthers looked light years ahead... at least on offense. Fullback Mike Tolbert had a nice one-handed grab for a score and Newton showcased his legs on numerous quarterback keepers.
• Otah Status: Offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who was originally traded to the Jets for a conditional 7th round pick, failed his physical for New York, not once, but twice and has become the Panthers problem once again. Panthers could try to trade, put him on the PUP list, or terminate his contract altogether.
• Injuries to report: OLB Thomas Davis (knee; precautionary reasons), CB Josh Norman (hamstring), WR David Gettis (hamstring, PUP List)