It's going to be hot...the average high temperature in July is 88.2 F, it could be a little sticky...average humidity lingers at 71%, but in 15 days Sparkle City will be overrun with out-of-towners in town for one thing: The Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve. Wait, that's not right. Training Camp! Yes, training camp is barely two weeks away.
To view the full schedule, just follow the link. The first practice will be held on July 26th at 6:15 p.m. followed by the Back to Football Party from 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. Live music, free food and a chance to discuss double-digit win predictions with fellow Panther fans are but some of the highlights.
Camp Storylines to follow:
Secondary in Shambles - For the first time since 2003 Chris Gamble will not be at training camp. This, along with a gaping hole on the other side of the field, makes this one of the more interesting and urgent camps for the defensive backs. Many are counting on 2nd year man Josh Norman to back up his bark with a little bit of bite this year. Third year man Josh Thomas also looks to find a spot in a secondary with plenty of opportunities.
Pay Attention To: Steve Wilks. When Wilks arrived he didn't recieve much fan fare. An App State grad, Wilks took a Chargers secondary that was ranked 31st in pass defense in 2008 and improved them to 11th in 2009 and 1st in 2010.
Wideouts Galore - Steve Smith, an aging #1 WR who would be best utilized in the slot. Brandon Lafell, a solid but not earth-shattering #2 who hasn't shown the ability to transition into the #1 WR role. After that the waters get mirky. Hometown heroes, Hawaiians on the mend, a perpetually injured "coulda been" and two interesting offseason additions will battle for the remaining spots between each other and others.
Pay Attention To: Ted Ginn Jr. James Dator made an interesting case for the journeyman and former #9 overall draft pick. Suffice to say, Ginn has never had the talent at QB that he's enjoyed so far this offseason in Cam Newton. Ginn still posesses elite speed and there's a chance that he single-handedly ends the Pilares vs. Edwards debate.
These are the two training camp storylines that I'll be watching intently. I drafted a similar post last year (albeit 61 days out) regarding what training camp battles to watch. The good news is the areas in question are much less. Last year I was waiting for training camp to shake out a Right Tackle, Safety, Cornerback, Defensive End and a couple Linebackers.
I want to hear from you Panther fans. What two areas are you most looking forward to seeing take shape in Spartanburg? Who are your X-Factors to pay attention to?