I’m embarrassed. Last week I mocked Jimmy Claussen saying that he looked like Gilbert Grape. It occurred to me only this morning that Gilbert Grape was Johnny Depp’s role, and I was thinking of Arnie Grape, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. I apologize to both handsome actors and to you readers. My movie memory got hazy, it will happen again.
I decided to head out to the morning practice today, because preseason games start next week. I’m not sure if practices will be worth the drive once real hitting begins and players start getting hurt. In fact, the Panthers had a number of players sitting out the session today, as they have a scrimmage tomorrow and they need warm bodies for that.
There was quite a lot of fog on my drive to Spartanburg and I was hoping that it would stick around and provide for a decent football/fog photo op at camp. Nope, by 8:30 it was sunny and humid as all get out. I arrived just in time to see the players walk onto the practice field. It looks like the initial charm of training camp has warn off. The fans pitching tents to wait for autographs were gone and it was downright quiet until the first air horn sounded.
Joining us today for practice were referees!
I guess this happens in every camp, players need to get used to the rules and referees need to practice missing calls. I actually saw a field judge giving tips to a newbie field judge. The newbie had on a different shirt with a bigger “F” on the back, so I guess he’s a rookie. To my dismay, Ed Hochuli’s guns weren’t there.
It’s amazing to me that after more than a week of double sessions, the grass on the practice fields is still mostly immaculate. After about five days of practice in high school, we were all coughing up dirt, but here the grass looks like the part of a golf course where you want to hit your ball. I hear it’s called the fairway, but I’ve never been there.
I would call this a run-of-the-mill practice. With not a lot of depth due to injuries, they held back. Rumor has it that this session was supposed to be in full pads, but instead they were in shoulder pads and shorts. I did get to watch goal line work up close. This was full speed, no tackling, and was way more game tempo than anything I saw last week. Matt Moore threw two interceptions, one to Richard Marshall in the end zone, and one to Captain Munnerlyn in another drill later. Both looked like they would have been returned for touchdowns.
Guard, Duke Robinson practiced today. He’s been practicing most of the week, but when I was at camp last week he was only walking laps around the field, because he hadn’t passed his conditioning test yet. I think I may find a football field around here somewhere and put myself through that test. I just have to know how out of shape Albert Haynesworth is.
Team president, Danny Morrison was making the rounds shaking hands with fans all morning again. He came up to me and asked me where I was from, and again I told him that I just moved to Charlotte from New Jersey. He actually remembered that we spoke last week once I said New Jersey. I think I was wearing the same outfit too, and my face still looked like a Dali painting. They’re still not hiring.
There really isn’t that much else to report on a pretty standard practice day. I’m not sure if I’ll be heading back to Spartanburg before camp breaks on the 18th. I’d like to see Steve Smith in action, but it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen. For now, I leave you with this (please excuse my sweaty, horrendous, morning face):