• Luke Kuechley of the Carolina Panthers signs autographs after training camp Sunday. Photo by BEN KATZ
    Luke Kuechley of the Carolina Panthers signs autographs after training camp Sunday. Photo by BEN KATZ

Panthers putting in work

    Spartanburg, S.C. – The Carolina Panthers are getting ready to open the 2018 season at training camp at Wofford College.
    This year, the team welcomes a new owner, David Tepper; a new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner; plus a new rookie class and free agent additions to the team.
    At training camp, starting quarterback Cam Newton spends time with each of the players on the team. During Sunday’s practice, he threw to wide receiver Jarius Wright three times in a row. Each time Wright ran the route slightly different, as Newton zoned in on when to make the throw.
    Torrey Smith, Newton, and Captain Munnerlyn (slot cornerback) have all spent the past few days after practice promoting a message of “Schools not Prisons.” Smith, Newton, and Munnerlyn all wore a shirt showcasing the message.
    Smith believes, “We live in a society right now where we were building a lot of jails, but a lot of schools aren’t getting the funds that they need or the resources they need.
    “It kind of goes hand-in-hand. You have kids who aren’t educated, who don’t have access to a college education, they tend to get in more trouble.”
    Munnerlyn continued to wear the shirt, bringing awareness to visitors at other training camp practices. After an afternoon practice in 94-degree heat, Munnerlyn was dripping with sweat, but he stayed in the sun signing autograph after autograph. For another 20 minutes, Munnerlyn patiently spoke with people with special needs, listening to their stories and sharing his own thoughts.
    As a smaller player on the field, Munnerlyn knows about turning a negative into a positive. He doesn’t shy away from who he is. While only
5 feet-9 inches tall, Munnerlyn uses his height to his advantage because “I’m lower than everybody already.”
    Starting linebacker, Luke Kuechley was the other Panther to spend time with fans after practice, signing autographs and answering questions. Kuechley said when he’s faced with a play that he hasn’t seen before he tries “to figure out what’s going on and go get it.”
    Kuechley was even a team player in answering questions. He included the coaching staff and other players in stating that, “We (as a team) get it figured out pretty quick.”
    Kuechley, Munnerlyn, Newton, Smith and the rest of the players know that this is a team game.
    They have spent the summer becoming one, but only time will tell if they have become a successful team.