The Panthers reported for training camp today, and their veterans are clearly sending a message that last year’s over.
Though the bulk of a 15-1 team which went to the Super Bowl is back (and they might actually be better on offense), the Panthers want to emphasize they’re back to 0-0 like everyone else.
“We have a lot of work to do, we take this very seriously,” tight end Greg Olsen said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “This is too hard to come out and just half-ass and find ourselves 1-4 asking, ‘What’s going on?’ We’re not going to allow that to be the problem and that all starts with our preparation here at camp.”
We’re certain that backup quarterback Derek Anderson agrees with Olsen about the gravity of the situation, but the reality is that while no one’s laughing, no one’s crying for a team which had so much success a year ago.
For Olsen it’s a familiar feeling, as he joined the Bears in 2007, the year after their Super Bowl loss. But he was younger then, and now has a better understanding of how a hangover happens.
“It’s not just the players — the team, the community, the fans — it’s human nature,” Olsen said. “I think everyone just assumes, ‘Hey, you’ve got the same guys back. Why would it be any different?’ I think the answer is every game is different; every season is different. Every season has its own kind of history, its own storyline. . . .
“I think from a human instinct perspective, you kind of rest on your laurels. We’ve identified that from Day 1. That can’t be the case with us. We’re going to start from one, and we’re going to build that platform starting with OTAs to minicamp and now to training camp. If we’re not willing to do those things, and if we think we’re just going to show up Week 1 and rattle off 14 wins in a row like we did last year just because we’re the same guys in the same uniforms, you’re going to find yourself in a bad spot. That’s just not the way this league works.”
Of course, that kind of talk is going to crop up in every camp this week, but the Panthers have clearly emphasized it this offseason. Coach Ron Rivera has been harping on it since the spring, and his players have clearly heard the message.