The Carolina Panthers began their first week of organized team activities on Tuesday as the team took the first steps in integrating new players into offensive and defensive schemes.
Attendance is not mandatory for the majority of players, but most veterans take the opportunity to begin early work with rookies. Cam Newton will be scrutinized closely after having ankle surgery this offseason. It doesn't take a genius to understand that the team's offensive success hinges on its franchise quarterback being healthy and early report indicate that he's doing quite well.
Cam arrives with Jason Avant. Slight limp pic.twitter.com/lolusLR3WV— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) May 28, 2014
Some have questioned the timing of Newton's surgery so close to off season activities, but these critiques are mostly storms in very tiny teacups. The team hoped his ankle would repair on its own, which it didn't. There's no need to make more of the situation than there is. While it's not ideal, it was the sensible move.
Luke Kuechly decided to have some fun with his teammates and onlookers by arriving to practice in the wrong jersey, sporting No. 93, which confused a few people.
Kuechly shows up for OTAS in No. 93. #Panthers— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) May 28, 2014
He quickly changed into No. 59 when he was inside the gate. Hey, maybe the Panthers middle linebacker is dealing with some paparazzi issues? Nobody is going to follow Chase Blackburn around (no offense Chase).
Greg Hardy was in attendance too. One of the late-arrivals to the practice field he wore headphones and didn't talk to members of the media, which shouldn't be a surprise. The less he says the better right now, until the legal issues surrounding his arrest and cleared up.
Spartanburg is the next stop in a few months where we'll really get to see things happening. Hopefully Newton is healthy enough to take reps like normal, then fans will have the opportunity to see him work with Kelvin Benjamin for the first time. Here's hoping it's the start of a beautiful friendship.