Carolina Panthers: Is Charlotte a safe place for training camp?

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Tre Boston
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Tre Boston /

Is Charlotte a safe environment for the Carolina Panthers to hold their 2020 training camp in the current climate?

The Carolina Panthers are getting ready for their long-awaited return to training camp. But is Charlotte a safe environment in the current climate to hold team activities?

This will be a welcome boost for new head coach Matt Rhule, who freely admitted he has met around 20 of his current 90-man roster in person during a difficult start to his time with the Carolina Panthers. What happens over the next few weeks will be crucial for the team as they look to make a statement in 2020.

The current situation across the country relating to COVID-19 remains a serious concern. Of the 89,752 confirmed cases in North Carolina since the outbreak began, 15,680 of these are within Mecklenburg County. This is comfortably the highest in the state and is further evidence that despite those opinions from the Commander in Chief, the virus hasn’t simply “gone away”.

Carolina’s dedicated staff team are going to ensure the team facility is meeting every last recommendation given to them by the NFL and the US Government. There will always be risks given the contact between players during drills. But time is running out if the league wants to start on time.

Could training camp define whether the Panthers will start their season on time?

Safety must obviously come first. But the public is craving football to make a return sooner rather than later. The Panthers are already facing a loss of revenue with their plans for only 25 percent capacity at Bank of America Stadium during the campaign. And owner David Tepper will not want to miss out on the substantial TV money that comes in the event the season is pushed back or even canceled.

Daily coronavirus cases in North Carolina are close to the 2,000-mark daily. This is far less than in some other parts of the country. But it is essential that the Panthers’ roster feels safe in order to maximize their production on the field.

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The virtual OTAs will have been of great use to a Carolina roster that has been gutted during an unprecedented offseason of activity. The Panthers also come with a new coaching staff this time around. So from a theoretical aspect, this should have everyone up to speed ahead of camp.

Staying in Charlotte is definitely a safer proposition that their annual trip to Wofford College, which has been Carolina’s preseason home since their inaugural season. While camp is bound to be a safe environment for staff and players alike. It will be essential that each individual takes extra precautions when they are away from the facility during downtime.

The situation is hanging on a knife-edge in no uncertain terms. Any spike in cases across the league would put the 2020 season in significant jeopardy. And the financial ramifications of this could set the Panthers back considerably given they are set to accumulate around $90 million to spend in free agency next year providing they make the necessary sacrifices elsewhere.

It is going to be an interesting few weeks league-wide, to say the least. Things must be done professionally in a safe and socially distanced setting. And the upcoming campaign will depend on it.

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