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Day 1 of Carolina Panthers training camp is in the books and new QB Sam Darnold is settling in nicely

New Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold being coached up at training camp
New Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold being coached up at training camp(Nate Wimberly/WBTV | WBTV)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WBTV) - Day one of Carolina Panthers training camp is in the books and a bit of a surprise as not many fans showed up for the first practice. But the show went on as new quarterback Sam Darnold is settling in nicely.

As far as the fans go, it was a warm morning at Wofford so that could be a reason for the low number of fans. Also, due to the pandemic, Keep Pounding Nation can no longer get autographs from their favorite players which could also play a role in the low attendance. But whatever the excuse is, it is something to keep an eye on as training camp continues.

But a lot of eyes and focus will be on Darnold as well. One potential distraction from the QB was cleared up early on Wednesday.

A league source confirmed that Darnold has received 2 COVID vaccines and will be considered fully vaccinated on July 30th.

With that behind Darnold, it truly is all about football.  That’s all head coach Matt Rhule wants his new signal caller to focus on.  Darnold doesn’t need to be the leader of this team immediately the first day.

“Sam is 23 years old-- he just needs to worry about playing quarterback right now,” said coach. “We got great leaders. What I’m really looking for from Sam right now is to be the first guy in the building and the last guy to leave. I just want him to absolutely grind and out work the competition. And I want PJ (Walker) and Will (Grier) to do the same thing. If our quarterbacks work at that level, it’s a lot more important to me than words.”

But there is no denying that the pressure will be on Darnold this season as he is trying to get his career on track after being traded from the New York Jets this past offseason.

It comes with the territory of being a starting QB.  Four years in the NFL has Darnold comfortable with that fact and ready for what’s to come.

“Anyone outside looking in can say ‘there is pressure on him-- he’s got to win’ and that’s true,” said Darnold. “But at the end of the day, it’s just me going out there, it’s doing everything I need to do today to get better. At the end of the day, making smart decisions on the football field and leading my team down the field and scoring touchdowns. That’s my job title so I’m going to do the best that I can to do that.”

As far as how day one went for Sam.

“I think Sam looked like a guy that was very well prepared today and that’s how he’s going to lead this team,” said coach Rhule.

But coach also doesn’t want everyday to be a great day for Sam.

He will get the chance to be even better tomorrow as the Panthers will practice at Wofford at 8:30 A.M.

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