All of the Carolina Panthers’ players have to be thinking the same thing as they hit the field for workouts in the elements. In fact, Stan Olson even wrote about the heat in today’s Charlotte Observer.
There’s a bunch more after the jump!
Today brought another fairly uneventful–I mean that in a good way; no one got hurt–Panthers’ offseason training activities workout session on the practice fields behind Bank of America Stadium. Well, not totally uneventful; those fields could have doubled as pizza ovens late this morning, as the players sweated, grunted and dripped their way through another hour-plus of work.
Which was fine; it “warmed up” the guys for training camp in Spartanburg come the end of July. One thing became pretty clear, though; don’t expect the OTAs to continue beyond Thursday. In recent years, the team has always cancelled the scheduled fourth week of the sessions, and it’s a pretty safe bet that will happen again.
Olson goes on to speculate that the camp will end early because of the rescheduled impromptu press conference for Tuesday by John Fox. We’ll see. Until then, however, there is a little bit of news to report. (Not much since the doors are closed to us but…a little.)
That stupid little “you might be in the NFL but you can’t practice because some egghead from your graduating class is still listening to a lecture” rule is still in effect for the team’s rookies. That includes Jonathan Stewart even though his toe is still also playing a part in keeping him off the practice field.
Backup QB Brett Basanez isn’t so keen on the rule.
“I think it puts the player at a disability, but at the same time, it helps people graduate; it gives them a reason to graduate rather than just drop out and say, ‘Hey, I’m in the NFL,’” Basanez said. “I think it’s a good rule, but there needs to be some way to make it equal from school to school. If guys on quarters aren’t out and guys on semesters are, then it’s not fair.”
Marty Hurney also weighed in on it.
“It’s a rule and everybody understands why,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “The No. 1 priority is for these kids to stay in school and work at that. That’s why there are rules, because it sets the tone for what you think’s important.”
This is one time when I’m siding with Basanez. If a kid left school early to take a job anywhere else he wouldn’t be kept out of the office until his classmates graduated. It’s a stupid, outdated rule that needs to be thrown out.
That ain’t all. The perception around the NFL is that defensive players must be a certain size. Anybody remember Zach Thomas? He was told he was too short to play linebacker. The same has happened with one of the Panthers’ rookies. Hilee Taylor is just looking to do whatever he can to make the team and contribute.
But Taylor talks like a guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes to be a difference maker at the next level. When asked on Monday what he foresees his role being this season with the Panthers, Taylor eagerly responded, “My role is to give it up for the team, to do whatever they need me to do.”
“Right now they want me to be a pass rushing guy and contribute on teams. I’m happy with that. If I make my mark there, maybe I can eventually be an every down defensive end.”
Taylor has an idol in the league who he has attempted to pattern himself after.
He idolizes Jason Taylor, the Miami Dolphins’ five-time Pro Bowl defensive end who has 117 career sacks with the Miami Dolphins. While Jason is about three inches taller than Hilee, he only weighs in at 255 pounds. (Hilee weighs in at 246.)
Hilee believes he can be that same type of player for the Panthers if he puts on a few pounds.
“Jason Taylor is the guy I pattern my game after,” Taylor said. “He’s a little taller than me, but he’s a high motor guy and doesn’t let his weight issue become a factor. If you play against him you think he’s bigger than he is.”
“It’s a physical game but it’s not all about that (size),” (Hilee) Taylor said. “It’s about smartness. Everybody here has what it takes and everyone has the talent, but it’s how smart you are and how quick you are to react. If you know what you’re doing you are going to react quicker. If you don’t it can turn into a 100-yard gain. You have to fight through and don’t let it get to you.”
Go, Hilee! Strike a blow for all us “little people!”