Party’s Over…Almost


It’s just about time to wrap it up, go home and prepare for a summer vacation before the real thing begins next month.  The Carolina Panthers are ending mini camp tomorrow.

That’s the way it always happens in the John Fox era; the coaches hold up the carrot of bagging that last week if things go well in the first three, and every year, things seem to go well enough for that to happen. So much so that the players always talk about that fourth week with a smile.

“We sort of plan on it anyway,” fullback Brad Hoover said after today’s workout, grinning. “If he was to change it, we’d be in trouble. Some trips would be canceled, and things like that. The real truth is that they (the coaches) want to get out of here too. It’s not us, so much as it’s them.”

That prompted laughter all around.

There’s more after the jump.

I wonder if any of the players would complain if coach Fox came in the door tomorrow and told them that he was looking forward to making them work their tails off next week.

If things went as well as the coach had hoped there should be no problems with shutting it down early.  It might be a little premature to wonder if all of the newcomers had sufficient opportunity to work on picking up new schemes.  There is time for a lot more of that during the two-a-days in training camp.  That fun begins July 25 in Spartanburg, SC.

There has been a trickle of news out of the team’s facilities other than the expected break the team will receive next week.  Stanley McClover cut his hair.

The Carolina Panthers defensive end began his offseason training by cutting off about a foot of his well-known dreadlocks before the beginning of the team’s organized workouts. What was once a flowing mane now fits snugly inside his helmet, about a half-inch left from what once had fans calling him “The Predator.”

“Since high school, I’ve been growing it,” McClover said Tuesday, running his hands over what used to be. “But it’s time to step up and be a man now. I’m ready to step up into this man role. Everybody in this organization knew how much my hair meant to me, and just making a big step like that, … I mean to anybody else it’s just your average haircut. But I’ve been having that hair since I’ve been in high school. It’s something that really touched me and really took a lot out of me to do it.

“But I had to do it to make the statement of what I have to do this year.”

The team will need guys like McClover to step up this season to take the heat off of Julius Peppers.  If shorter hair does the job, maybe he should consider shaving it all off.

Brad Hoover may have been joking about the end of mini camp but he was being serious when he talked about his choice to stay with the team this offseason and the changes that have been made.

“It’s one of those things where I was trying to weigh all of my options,” said Hoover, the Panthers longtime starting fullback. “There were other options out there. It was just trying to see what I wanted to do. Ultimately it just made sense for me to stay.”

This is where I’ve grown up and my family is still here and I’ve been with organization since day one. So it was important for me to stay here,” he said.

He raves about the additions of running back Jonathan Stewart, tackle Jeff Otah and receivers Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett and is excited about the return of Jake Delhomme. But what has him most pumped up is the beef the team has added up front on the offensive line. The bigger the linemen, Hoover figures, the easier his job.

“We are out here in just shorts right now, but we’re still moving guys (on defense),” Hoover said. “And that’s the good thing. You don’t see that a lot of times, but the excitement is going to be when we get down to camp and put on the pads and get in our first preseason and see what we’re made of. But anytime you can just sit back there and see this huge mound of big guys, that’s exciting for us as backs… Offensively, if we stay healthy, we have a good shot to do a lot of good things.”

There’s only one more day of mini camp and that is likely to be a formality but if any news comes out of the team’s HQ we’ll bring it to you.