The Carolina Panthers will kick off their 2013 training camp once again at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. The team is in an expanding minority of league teams that continue holding their camps at locations other than their regular-season facilities. Panthers coach Ron Riversa has said he likes to do so for team bonding.

The first practice is on July 26 and there a lot of free practices for fans to attend.

Training Camp Schedule

Friday July 26 6:15 p.m. – Practice will be held at Gibbs Stadium for the Back to Football Party
Saturday July 27 2:30 p.m. -Practice will also include Play60 (1:30-3:30 p.m.)
Sunday July 28–30 9:15 a.m.
Thursday Aug. 1: 2:30 p.m.
Friday Aug. 2: 9:15 a.m.
Saturday Aug. 3: 3:30 p.m. – Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium
Monday Aug. 5: 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 6-8: 9:15 a.m.
Sunday Aug. 11: 6:15 p.m.
Monday Aug: 12: 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday Aug. 13: 9:00 a.m.

Special Events

Back to Football Party: This is a free celebration to kick off the start of training camp. It begins at Gibbs Stadium Plaza from 4:30-6:15 p.m. and then after the Panthers’ practice, held from 8:30-9 p.m. Activities include live entertainment by the band Grand Strand as well as performances by PurrCussion, Sir Purr and the TopCats, Mayor’s Ball Run delivery, face painting, food and much more.

Play60: The Play 60 Kids Combine will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. and will include appearances by Sir Purr and the TopCats as well as opportunities for face painting and additional activities for the entire family. This event promotes the league’s Play 60 youth fitness initiative via a number of kid-friendly activity stations.

Preseason Games

August 9, 2013 – Chicago Bears 8:00 p.m. EDT

August 15, 2013 – At Philadelphia Eagles 7:30 p.m. EDT

August 22, 2013 – At Baltimore Ravens  8:00 p.m. EDT

August 29, 2013 – Pittsburgh Steelers 7:30 p.m. EDT

Training Camp Storylines

The Panthers are coming off a 2012 7-9 season that ended with a four-game win streak. Questions swirled if Rivera would remain with the team and we know how that turned out. Talented quarterback Cam Newton will need to be more consistent in this third year to help the team grab more wins. This will come under a new offensive coordinator, Mike Shula and it will be interesting to see what type of scheme he employs (more of a running attack?) and if it plays to Newton’s strengths.

Offense

Over at wide receiver, look for a battle between Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. to take the slot receiver role with fellow receivers, Joe Adams, Armanti Edwards and David Gettis competing for playing time at wideout.

As of now, if he stays healthy, the nod could go toward Gettis to grab more passes.

On the rushing side, running back Jonathan Steward had offseason surgery on both his ankles. He’s said to be “progressing well” even though he recently had to withdraw from a golf tournament; Stewart may not be ready for next week’s training camp.

Will this setback extend to the regular season?

In his absence, DeAngelo Williams and possible fullback Mike Tolbert will step up.

For the offensive line, right guard Geoff Hangartner, 31, is expected to be the starter but rookie Edmund Kugbila could stage a training camp battle even though injuries kept him out from some time at minicamp. He is expected to be ready for training camp.

Defense

Battles will take place for the team’s backfield including the cornerback talent. There’s a wealth of candidates who want a stab at playing time and this includes Drayton Florence, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Norman and Josh Thomas.

The team added two rookie defensive tackles including Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. Can these two live up to their high expectations and immediately contribute?

Is a new safety coming the Panthers way? They have expressed interest in free agent safety Quintin Mikell, who spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Rams.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed this last week and said of the player via Newsobserver.com, (who he knew when he coached with the Philadelphia Eagles), “He can play. He’s a good football player. We’ll see how things go. It’s still early. We’ve got a couple weeks left to go.”