Panthers begin second phase of offseason workouts, plan training camp with Colts

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The NFL offseason rolls on.

Despite the NFL Players’ Assocation advocating for players not to attend voluntary offseason programs over the past couple months, Monday marked the beginning of the second phase of the 2021 offseason program. The second phase runs through May 21 and includes virtual meetings and on-field, no-contact drills with coaches.

Teams can have 10 days of full-speed but no-contact drills beginning May 24. The third phase also includes the option of in-person meetings.

Some of the Carolina Panthers’ veteran players were in the building Monday, including new veteran defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, joining many of the rookies who just completed a three-day minicamp.

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To varying degrees, players were in attendance on teams throughout the league, although some teams have altered their offseason programs to meet some of the players’ concerns about the safety of offseason activities. The Indianapolis Colts, for example, have removed the mandatory minicamp in June and instead have players in the building throughout the next two weeks.

The Panthers players were not among players from the 20-plus teams to issue a statement on not participating in some degree in the offseason program.

“The leadership on our team, the key guys on our team, they’ve told me, ‘Hey, coach, we’re there, we’re going to do whatever you ask us to do,’” coach Matt Rhule said Saturday. “First we talked to the sport science guys. Then we talked to the medical staff, so we believe in all the things the guys are asking for. We believe in ramp-up periods. We believe in waving, we believe in using GPS. A lot of the things that I think some guys are asking for, we do.

“We’re taking this as, we have a young team, this is a chance for us to develop some just very basic skills for a lot of guys, basic knowledge of our systems and then try to grow from there. So, I think, you know, it’s voluntary, the guys who show up I think that they’ll work, but they’ll also be pleased with everything, hopefully, smart and well done.”

After this week, the Panthers’ offseason schedule includes:

OTA Offseason Workouts: May 24-25, May 27, June 1-3, June 7-10

Mandatory Minicamp: June 15-17

Training camp with Colts

The Panthers are expected to return to Wofford College for training camp this year, as The Observer reported last week, pending approval from the league office. The team’s first preseason game is at Indianapolis, though a date and time has not yet been decided upon.

The two teams are in discussions to have the Panthers practice with the Colts prior to the game, per a league source. The Athletic first reported that development.

The Colts are hoping to practice away from their facility this year as well, coach Frank Reich shared Monday. The team is in the middle of a 10-year contract with Westfield, Indiana’s Grand Park Sports Campus to hold training camp there.

Panthers training camp is expected to shift to the new facility in Rock Hill once it opens, however that date has been pushed back until 2023, a year later than originally planned. The team will have more opportunities to return to Spartanburg.

Transactions

The Panthers made a series of moves following rookie minicamp, including waiving kicker Matt Ammendola from Oklahoma State. The team has competition at each of the specialist positions now except kicker. Joey Slye is currently the only kicker on the roster. Over his two years with the Panthers, Slye has made 54 of 68 field goals (79.4%) and 64 of 71 (90.1%) extra-point attempts. The team will likely bring in other competition for Slye at some point.

Linebacker Daniel Bituli and defensive tackle P.J. Johnson were also waived. The team signed defensive end Kendall Donnerson and safety Delano Hill, who spent the past four years in Seattle after being drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft. General Manager Scott Fitterer worked in the Seahawks front office for almost two decades, so he is plenty familiar with Hill.

Both signed players tried out at the team’s rookie minicamp.

Inked: The Panthers have agreed to terms with seven of 11 draft picks — RB Chuba Hubbard, DT Daviyon Nixon, CB Keith Taylor Jr., OL Deonte Brown, WR Shi Smith, LS Thomas Fletcher and DT Phil Hoskins.

No. 12

Sixth-round pick and former South Carolina wide receiver Smith wore No. 12 during rookie minicamp, the jersey number of receiver DJ Moore. After the relaxation of league rules regarding which positions can wear certain jersey numbers, Moore has debated switching to No. 2.

The decision will be one to keep an eye on, at least on the fashion side of things. Moore would have to buy back all of his jerseys in order to make the switch for this season. Smith is the only rookie without a jersey number next to his name on the team’s website. He wore No. 13 with the Gamecocks. Wide receiver Ishmael Hyman, who spent last year on the practice squad, is currently in No. 13.