New faces and jersey numbers will be on the practice fields outside of Bank of America Stadium this weekend.
This week kicks off the first on-field offseason program for the Panthers with rookie minicamp officially taking place Friday through Sunday.
Most of the players arrived in Charlotte on Wednesday, attended meetings Thursday and will take the field Friday and Saturday, and possibly Sunday as well.
The group taking the field will feature more than just the 11 players selected in the 2021 NFL draft. Undrafted free agents, try-outs and first-year players will also be participating. The expectation is to have 34 players in attendance.
Here’s what you need to know.
It’s been a bit since the last rookie minicamp that was actually held at the Panthers’ facilities. Last year, all offseason programs leading up to training camp took place virtually. New players to the league missed the opportunity to get to know their new facility and coaching staff without all of the veteran players present. It also gives the coaching staff a closer look at the youngest players on the roster and those that may bring in to try out.
This year, teams are only able to bring in a maximum of five players for tryouts due to COVID-19. Normally, teams would like to bring in a variety of young players for opportunities.
On the field and in the meeting rooms, this starts the process of making the roster.
Who will be there?
All franchise-tying 11 draft picks are expected to participate and the five undrafted free agents.
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina (No. 8)
WR Terrace Marshall JR., LSU (No. 88)
OT Brady Christensen, BYU (No. 70)
TE Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame (No. 82)
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (No. 30)
DT Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (No. 94)
CB Keith Taylor Jr., Washington (No. 28)
OL Deonte Brown, Alabama (No. 77)
WR Shi Smith, South Carolina (No. 12)
LS Thomas Fletcher, Alabama (No. 46)
DT Phil Hoskins, Kentucky (No. 71)
P Oscar Draguicevich III, Washington State (No. 15)
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern (No. 47)
OL David Moore, Grambling (No. 68)
RB Spencer Brown, UAB (No. 33)
FB Mason Stokke, Wisconsin (N0. 40)
There will also those who qualify as first-year players, including like kicker Matt Ammendola, who went undrafted last year out of Oklahoma State and was never signed to an NFL roster.
First-year players or previously signed players
K Matt Ammendola
LB Daniel Bituli
FB Mikey Daniel
RB Darius Clark
WR Ishmael Hyman
S J.T. Ibe
T Martez Ivey
DT P.J. Johnson
DB Jalen Julius
G Aaron Monteiro
DT Mike Panasiuk
TE Giovanni Ricci
WR Micah Simon
Among those players trying out over the weekend are two quarterbacks who went undrafted this past year — Northwestern’s Peyton Ramsey and Washington’s Kevin Thomson
Ramsey, 23, started his college career at Indiana. He became a full-time starter in 2018 and during the 2019 season, Ramsey completed 68% of his passes, the second-highest mark in program history, for 2,454 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
In his only season at Northwestern, he completed just 61% of his passes, but helped lead the Wildcats to a perfect home record for the first time since 1995. He is just five months younger than Sam Darnold, who has been in the NFL for three years.
Thomson, on the other hand, has been playing college football since 2014. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback described as a “dual-threat” began his career at UNLV from 2014-15, but redshirted his freshman year and then saw no game action the second year. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.
After transferring to Sacramento State in 2016, he spent the next four years at the school with his best season coming in 2019. Thomson, 26, was named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year after he threw for 3,216 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and ran for a team-best 12 rushing touchdowns.
Thomson transferred to Washington in 2020, but did not play and decided to pursue the next level instead of his eighth college season. He would be the oldest quarterback on the Panthers’ roster by about six months.
Other try outs
DE Kendall Donnerson
LB Kavika Fonua
S Delano Hill
Players to watch
For some players, these practice opportunities are everything and need to be taken advantage of. Who will be keeping an eye on?
OL Deonte Brown, Alabama: Brown’s size is hard to miss and has been noted as a factor in his play in the past. What shape will he come into camp in and will the Panthers ask him to slim up or slim down? As a fifth-round pick, he is not guaranteed to make the roster. The team lists him at 6-5, 280 pounds.
K Matt Ammendola, Oklahoma State: Joey Slye didn’t exactly end the 2020 season with a full vote of confidence from Matt Rhule. It will be interesting to see how he performs prior to Slye arriving to compete in on-field drills with OTAs later this month. Ammendola’s known for having a bigger leg and will have a chance to fight for a job.
OL David Moore, Grambling
Many were surprised that Moore was not drafted, but he’ll have a solid chance to make the roster, or at least the practice squad with the Panthers in need of a significant amount of help along the offensive line. How he performs over the next few days could be a key first step for a staff already familiar with him from the Senior Bowl.
T Brady Christensen, BYU
Yes, yes, we went with three offensive linemen, but isn’t that area the biggest question mark on the Panthers’ roster? For Christensen, a third-round pick, the question is less so about making the roster, and more about where he is playing. Will he only play left tackle, and if so, how does he look? The Panthers said they believe he can play inside, too. How will he perform there after playing so much left tackle in college?