Bet you didn't know that it is 107 days until the kickoff of the 2016 season for the Carolina Panthers. One group of guys keeping track are the Panthers.
Normally you would hear the players counting down to the start of the season, but Coach Ron Rivera is the one doing the counting and he is relaying that to his team.
"I want to make sure we understand the sense of urgency," said coach Rivera. "The message out here is you don't start where you finish. You start from the beginning."
That means there is a lot of work to do between now and September 8th, but the fact that the head coach is counting shows you just how hungry this team is.
Here are a couple of take aways from the first day of OTA.
As far as the on field work, coach said they looked a little rusty but that is expected since this is the first day.
First round draft pick defensive tackle Vernon Butler is already getting rave reviews from his coaches and teammates.
"He reminds me a lot of myself," said fellow D tackle Kawann Short. "His first step is pretty fast. The way he's working, he's going to be one of those dominate players."
Short is coming off a career year in which he had 11 sacks (the most by any defensive tackle in the NFL) and 4 forced fumbles.
The rookie defensive backs are turning heads as well and these next 3 weeks of OTA and the mini camp will be critical for the secondary.
Gone are Roman Harper and Josh Norman so communication among the new guys and the vets will be key to the success of the defense.
"We don't have the starters in Josh Norman and Roman (Harper) that were out there, but at the same time we do have guys that played a lot of key roles," said cornerback Bene Benwikere.
Bene is one of those with big time game experience as he played in 13 games last season before breaking his leg.
Safety Kurt Coleman is back as well coming off a 7 interception year in 2015.
Tre Boston was a key reserve last season at the safety position and is hungry to take the starting free safety spot.
The 3rd year veteran admitted that he didn't work as hard as he should have during last off season and he got beat out by Coleman to become the starter, but that won't be the case this time around.
"This is my year to make sure that without a doubt that's my spot and I will make sure that's known come week 1," said Boston.
That's a common feeling with this team in 2016.
They got to the big game last year and it was great. But this time around, they want to make it SUPER. They still have something to prove.
It is way too early to talk Super Bowl, but it is in this team's mind and so far, it looks like it is driving them in a positive way.
107 days can't go by fast enough for the Carolina Panthers.
I for one need a vacation before that.
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