Carolina Panthers

‘Come back ready to roll’: Final thoughts as Carolina Panthers wrap spring minicamp

And now, we wait.

The Carolina Panthers finished their third and final day of mandatory mini-camp on Thursday, meaning spring workouts are officially a wrap.

For the next six weeks, players and coaches will disperse everywhere from California to Atlanta, taking much-needed vacations (while they can). Then on July 24, they’ll reconvene at Wofford College in Spartanburg for training camp, where the march to the regular season kicks into overdrive.

That off time is key to staying fresh before the grinding slog of the regular season. But while time away is certainly encouraged, and expected, coach Ron Rivera also wants his team to keep in mind all they’ve accomplished the past four weeks of practice..

“A big part of right now, for us, will be their retention,” Rivera said. “When they get back to training camp, are they physically prepared? We’ll do our conditioning tests just to make sure, but then are they mentally prepared? Have they studied? Have they taken their notes with them and reflected on the things that we did these past four weeks?

“You want these guys to come back ready to roll.”

In the meantime, here are some observations from Carolina’s final spring workout:

Cornerback Ross Cockrell, rookie running back Jordan Scarlett and receiver Torrey Smith all worked on the JUGS machines before practice on catching drills. Cockrell’s return from a devastating leg injury suffered last training camp will provide valuable depth to a secondary still in the works. Smith also did work on the side.

Tight end Ian Thomas, guard Ian Silberman, and defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao all worked on the side during practice. Rivera said he still expects Thomas to be a full participant by training camp.

“We had a number of guys that were still going through the rehab process, and you want to see those guys on the field,” Rivera said. “You want to see Ian, Daryl Williams, who has had a great offseason .... Trai (Turner) worked through some things. Obviously we didn’t have Shaq (Thompson) full-time out there as well, so I’m excited about getting all those guys back out there on the football field.”

Cam Newton continued his progression during positional drills, throwing intermediate-to-deep routes to moving targets. Curtis Samuel was the beneficiary of one particularly well-placed pass near the sideline. Rivera reiterated that Newton is still on schedule with the plan team trainers have set for him.

“He had a great day today,” Rivera said. “In fact, he threw a little bit more than we anticipated. He was feeling really good. Threw to the wide receivers, threw some deeper balls. Again, he’s gone through every step that we’ve asked, so I’m just excited.”

Tight end Greg Olsen participated in offensive drills, catching a toe-tap touchdown from Will Grier in the left corner of the end zone. Grier also saw one of his passes tipped by Rashaun Gaulden, who is competing to start alongside Eric Reid at safety.

Corn Elder, who has worked at both outside corner and nickel, had an interception of Kyle Allen that would have been returned for a touchdown.

Another step in constructing the Panthers’ practice bubble came Thursday, as crew worked throughout practice on the actual roof portion of the bubble. Workers stitched up different segments of the bubble and also wedged it into the wall surrounding the turf field. The day after doors were installed on the back wall, construction is close to being complete on one of David Tepper’s first significant projects with the team.

Brendan Marks is a general assignment sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer covering the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR and more. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked for the Observer since August 2017.
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