Displaced Panthers set up shop in Bradenton to prepare for Bucs
The Panthers, who kick off their season against the Bucs on Sunday, continued their game preparation today in, of all places, Bradenton.
That’s where the team has set up shop after being displaced from their downtown Charlotte training facility by the Democratic National Convention (we, in Tampa, can relate after last week). The Panthers are practicing at IMG Academy, where the Bucs staged their players-only workouts during last year’s NFL lockout.
We spent today in Bradenton and, among other things, asked how all this will affect the Panthers?
“It would’ve been great to be home,” linebacker Jon Beason said. “But the pluses are the weather (it’s rainy in Charlotte), the extra time we have to meet, we get to sleep in a little, we don’t have to drive in and worry about traffic. You just roll out of bed and go downstairs (to the meeting room). So, that part of it is very camp-like.”
Coach Ron Rivera sees another similarity to training camp – the chance to continue bonding.
“There’s really a lot of great things have come out of this,” he said. “I’m excited. I hope this helps us accomplish what we want. Not just getting ready to play a football game, but to keep working to come together as a unit. That, I think, is a huge plus for us. This is a great opportunity for us. What we do with it, that will be dictated on Sunday. But so far, I think it’s been good for us.”
There is a drawback: It’s, um, hot here. Hotter than Charlotte, apparently.
“I forgot how hot it was,” quarterback Cam Newton joked. “I think the equipment guys played a trick on me today, putting a heater inside my helmet. But it’s all right.”