In 2019, it seemed unlikely that the Carolina Panthers may ever return to Spartanburg, S.C. for training camp.
After a year spent away from Wofford College due to COVID-19, the Panthers are making a big return with the 2021 training camp. In Spartanburg, the Panthers will be one of just four teams practicing away from their home facility for the entirety of training camp, along with the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Panthers are one of 21 teams scheduled to have joint practices with another team this year with two practices each against the Colts and the Baltimore Ravens prior to their preseason games. The team is one of seven that will practice against multiple opponents during camp — Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition, Carolina will be preparing for a different schedule than last year with only three preseason games and 17 regular-season games.
The first practice is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28.
Need to know for attending Panthers practices/Fan Fest
▪ COVID-19. Proof of vaccinations and face coverings will not be required to attend practice. Fans, however, will be required to register once in advance of attending practice on the team’s website or app.
▪ Seating. Practices are free to attend with first-come, first-serve seating on the grass hill alongside the practice fields. Fans will be allowed to sit on the main hill alongside Field 2. Standing is not allowed behind the Field 2 and Field 3 end zones this year, per the team’s website. The following items are permitted at camp: Backpacks, containers for medical supplies, flags without poles or sticks, folding chairs, seat cushions, umbrellas, strollers, selfie sticks and tablets.
▪ No autographs. Due to the league and NFL Players Association protocols, autographs will not be allowed. Fans have to stand at least 20 feet away from players and coaches at all times. There will be a giveaway for autographed items at each practice through the team’s app.
▪ Fan Fest. The Panthers will also bring back Fan Fest to Bank of America Stadium on Aug. 6. Tickets to Fan Fest are $5 and proceeds will benefit Carolina Panthers Charities. They can be purchased on Panthers.com and Ticketmaster.com.
Fan Fest will also include a fireworks and laser show. Gates are scheduled to open at 5:30 p.m. with on-field entertainment, including the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and the Black & Blue Crew, performing for an hour before practice begins at 7 p.m. The fireworks show is scheduled for 9:15 p.m.
Top story lines
▪ Year 2 under coach Matt Rhule and a return to Wofford. The kickoff of training camp marks the start of the second full season under Rhule and the first full camp since he became head coach. This will be the coaching staff’s first experience at Wofford. How will it look as compared to years past? What kind of jump will this team make after finishing 5-11 in 2020?
▪ Sam Darnold. The quarterback position is always one that receives plenty of attention, and this year all eyes will be directed toward Darnold. The team is on its third starting quarterback in the last three seasons following the release of Cam Newton after the 2019 season and trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos this offseason. How will Darnold look in Joe Brady’s offense? Can he perform dramatically better from his time in New York?
▪ Defense taking a step forward. Under coordinator Phil Snow, the Panthers defense made steps in the right direction toward the end of the 2020 season. Over the last several months, the team has added to the unit in both free agency and the draft, bringing in players like Jaycee Horn, defensive end Haason Reddick, Morgan Fox and A.J. Bouye. With players such as Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn returning for their second year in this defense, the unit is primed to take an even bigger step this year.
Position battles to watch
The five positions most worth keeping an eye on throughout camp are offensive tackle, tight end, safety, backup running back and long snapper. A full breakdown of each of those positions can be found here.
Panthers training camp schedule
*All practices at Wofford College unless otherwise indicated
Ramp up: Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFLPA, the first three days of training camp practice must have zero contact. The next two days can include the use of “shells” or helmets and light practice gear. Teams must have an off day by the sixth day of camp and then can begin wearing pads by the seventh day.
Wednesday, July 28: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Thursday, July 29: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Friday, July 30: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 31: 7-9 p.m. Training Camp: Back Together Saturday, Gibbs Stadium, Wofford College
Sunday, Aug. 1: No practice
Monday, Aug. 2: 8:30-11 a.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 3: 8:30- 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 4: 8:30-11 a.m.
Thursday, Aug. 5: 8:30-11 a.m.
Friday, Aug. 6: 7-9 p.m. Fan Fest presented by Daimler, Bank of America Stadium
Saturday, Aug. 7: No practice
Sunday, Aug. 8: 8:30-11 a.m.
Monday, Aug. 9: 8:30-11 a.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 10: 8:30-11 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 11: No practice
Thursday, Aug. 12: 4-6 p.m. Joint practice with Indianapolis Colts, Westfield, Ind.
Friday, Aug. 13: 4-6 p.m. Joint practice with Indianapolis Colts, Westfield, Ind.
Saturday, Aug. 14: no practice
Sunday, Aug. 15: Preseason game: @ Colts, 1 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium.
Monday, Aug. 16: No practice
Tuesday, Aug. 17: 8:30-11 a.m., teams must reduce rosters to 85 players.
Wednesday, Aug. 18: TBD. Joint practice with Baltimore Ravens, Wofford
Thursday, Aug. 19: TBD. Joint practice with Baltimore Ravens, Wofford
Saturday, Aug 21: Preseason game: vs. Ravens, 7 p.m., Bank of America Stadium