Panthers 2021 training camp: 6 takeaways from a costly first padded practice

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The Carolina Panthers came to work with a different attitude today. This was their first practice of the year with full pads and the players responded with a surge of energy. However, all that extra contact came at a high cost.

Here are six takeaways from the first padded practice of training camp.

A taste of the fall

Spartanburg in August is about as hot as it gets in the US. Today, the players got a break from the oppressive heat with a cooler, cloudier forecast. Walking into practice, coach Matt Rhule said he hoped it would rain, because there's nothing better in the world than football in the rain. https://twitter.com/PanthersBill/status/1422532556092755969 Between the weather and the pads coming on, the Panthers got a taste of real fall-style football - and the inherent dangers.

Shaq Thompson and A.J. Bouye were limited

There were a couple of players who were wearing red no-contact jerseys. Linebacker Shaq Thompson left Saturday evening's practice early with some lower body tightness and was limited yesterday. Also, cornerback A.J. Bouye "pulled something" according to coach Rhule. Both were wearing red jerseys today. https://twitter.com/agetzenberg/status/1422533138144710657 We don't have any details on Bouye's injury yet, but it doesn't sound like a serious thing that will keep him out for a long time. Myles Hartsfield has been taking reps at nickel in his place.

Will Grier got time with the 2s

After an awful performance by the quarterbacks on Monday, the Panthers changed their rotation up. Sam Darnold's primary backup P.J. Walker has been getting all of the second-team reps so far in camp, but today it was third-stringer Will Grier who got to run with the twos, instead. https://twitter.com/daringantt/status/1422544004386803715 Yesterday, Walker overthrew a ball that was picked off by Jaycee Horn and Darnold was intercepted twice.

Ian Thomas is still fighting

Tight end Ian Thomas is under as much pressure to perform as any Carolina player this year. The good news is he's been generating positive buzz and on the first team drill rep he caught a pass from Darnold for a first down. https://twitter.com/PanthersBill/status/1422541135789035520 Thomas' production has been disappointing since he was drafted. In order to keep his spot on the roster he'll have to prove he can consistently contribute in the passing game.

Keith Kirkwood left in an ambulance

The first padded practice of the year is always a bit more intense than usual, and this one was no exception to the rule. Today's session was described as more spirited by some observers. https://twitter.com/daringantt/status/1422548609996894216 Unfortunately, things got a little out of hand. At one point, backup safety JT Ibe laid out wide receiver Keith Kirkwood in mid-air. Kirkwood went down for a long time and wound up leaving the field in an ambulance. https://twitter.com/josephperson/status/1422554566407725057 Rhule ejected Ibe from practice. https://twitter.com/josephperson/status/1422551476304556047 Kirkwood missed all but one game last season due to collarbone injuries. On the positive side, he was seen moving his arms and legs. https://twitter.com/daringantt/status/1422554384903417860 As for Ibe, his chances of making the roster already weren't great. Don't be surprised if he's one of the first players cut in the coming weeks.

Darius Clark also carted off

Kirkwood wasn't the only player who got hurt, either. Undrafted rookie running back Darius Clark walked off with trainers not too long after practice resumed. He was eventually carted off, as well. https://twitter.com/josephperson/status/1422564493444460547 Clark is competing for a spot at the bottom of the depth chart against guys like Rodney Smith and Spencer Brown. [vertical-gallery id=638384]

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