Why the Panthers’ Hard Knocks snub is a blessing in disguise

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

The Carolina Panthers were not selected to be on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer despite being eligible, which might actually be a good thing.

Despite being one of the teams shortlisted for HBO’s incredible annual Hard Knocks documentary series during the summer, the Carolina Panthers didn’t get the nod. The show will be on-site with the Dallas Cowboys for the third time, which is pretty much par for the course for a team that always seems to be in the spotlight.

Even though their lack of success in the postseason for almost three decades is well documented.

In truth, this might actually work out well for the Panthers.

It’s a huge training camp upcoming for this young roster. They are making their return to Wofford College in Spartanburg following a year away due to COVID-19, which head coach Matt Rhule is also experiencing for the first time.

Considering how difficult last offseason was for every NFL team, the fact Rhule got his roster believing and pulling in the same direction was pleasing.

It’s wasn’t an easy situation to come into – especially with the big changes made to personnel. But Carolina can relax safe in the knowledge they have the right man at the helm despite finishing with a 5-11 record for the second straight year.

Carolina Panthers don’t need the additional pressure of Hard Knocks this summer.

The distraction of Hard Knocks and the additional pressure it brings is something the Panthers are probably not ready for at this juncture.

Dallas might have a clear desire to be talked about daily in the national media, but their high-profile veterans boast more experience of dealing with this sort of situation than most.

Carolina will be happy to quietly go under the radar in pursuit of becoming one of the NFL’s surprise packages in 2021. The talent has been upgraded thanks to another busy period of recruitment during free agency and the draft, but whether this can come together when the heat is on is another matter entirely.

It would have been nice to see the Panthers up close and personal behind the scenes on Hard Knocks. However, the organization has an exceptional social media team that does a great job of keeping fans who cannot attend right up to speed.

There is even talk of a follow-up to their incredible Panthers Confidential documentary that went down a storm following the draft.

Team owner David Tepper undoubtedly wants the franchise to be front and center. An industry leader both on and off the field.

But the simple fact is Carolina has to win some games first.

The pressure is on a lot more in 2021 than it was last season. Rhule got a relative pass in Year 1 of his substantial rebuild and they were far more competitive than anybody hoped without quite getting it done in crucial moments.

These same excuses won’t wash with Tepper or the fans this time around.

The Panthers have a structured training camp program and preseason games to fine-tune their plans. There also appears to be a big opportunity to get some early victories before things get tougher later in the campaign.

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Hard Knocks would have been great to raise the team’s profile and certain members of the roster. But at this stage of Carolina’s development, it might come as a relief to see them go with “America’s Team” instead.