Training camp for the Carolina Panthers starts slowly Thursday. Most of the stars drive to their new Wofford dormitory, Shipp Hall, the back way. We -- the media -- aren't supposed to talk to them there. So most of us wait in front.
The biggest name we see the first half hour is fourth-team quarterback Colby Cameron. Although Cameron is across the street, I sense confidence.
Meanwhile, behind the building, there is visual gold. Quarterback Derek Anderson pulls up in his Range Rover and out steps Luke Kuechly and Jordan Senn. Did they carpool to leave a smaller carbon footprint? They live in the same Charlotte building.
The visual gold is when Anderson grabs three or four foam pillows and a foam comforter. Anderson disappears beneath the foam.
Meanwhile, out front, a free-agent pulls up in a Camry. What letter does Camry begin with? C.
What letter does cut begin with? C.
Offensive lineman Byron Bell tells reporters he loves Spartanburg. This makes fellow lineman Jeff Byers laugh. Byers is from Colorado. He played collegiately at Southern California.
"Spartanburg is a little different," Byers says. "I don't not like Spartanburg. But humidity in the South is not necessarily my biggest friend all the time. Growing up in Colorado a humid day is 6%. A non humid day in Spartanburg is like 40% or something."
But, Byers adds, "when it's 1 o'clock on Sunday in September you think back to Spartanburg and 1 o'clock on Sunday seems real easy."
Rookie Kenjon Barner, who played at Oregon, is asked what he's heard about Spartanburg.
"Hot," he says. "Hot. Humid. And hot again."
D.J. Moore, the cornerback who played the last five seasons for Chicago, grew up in Spartanburg and attended Broome High. He stands in the street in front of the dorm. Counting media, security and public relations officials, 25 people surround him.
We have a controversy. Repeat, we have the first controversy of camp.
Two men seeking autographs are told by a security official to leave. They walk to the far side of a grass field across from the dormitory, across from where the media gathers.
Two Panther security officials and a police officer, a real one with a uniform, handcuffs and a gun, approach the autograph seekers, who do not ask for an autograph. One of the autograph seekers wears a Muhsin Muhammad jersey.
First fight of camp?
Nah. After protesting, the men leave.
The campus once again feels safe.
Greg Olsen pulls up in a big truck. Behind him Steve Smith, who wears a Los Angeles Angels cap, pulls up in a red convertible.
Smith talks about how, if the Panthers win, they will own the city. And if they start as terribly as they did the last two seasons, he says, people will be "fired, cut and change real quick. For everyone."
Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil pull up in a golf cart. On the windshield are the words: Hog Mollie Hauler.
"We're just lazy so we've got the golf cart so we don't have to walk up the hill in the heat every day," Gross says. "And our security staff gave us the proper security so everybody knows not to steal that thing."
Gross says he likes Spartanburg. He knows it. He knows the best way in and out of town and where the best restaurants are.
"I'd like to see it when it's not 90 something and humid because it's probably a beautiful place," Gross says.
LInebacker Jon Beason holds a Panther Pulse microphone and interviews center Kalil.
"I'm a big fan of yours," Beason says.
Kalil, a California guy, wears an In-N-Out Burger T-shirt.
KALIL: "The best burger."
BEASON: "It's the fries, I hear."
KALIL: "No, it's the burger."
BEASON: "Regular fries or the animal style?"
KALIL: "It has nothing to do with the fries, Jon. It's the burger.
BEASON: "Is that like a thousand island they put on (the burger)?"
KALIL: "No it's not. It's a special sauce that is a family secret."
BEASON: "It's a special sauce? I don't know anything about that. You know I'm a Miami guy."
KALIL: "Anytime you want to come out it's on me, Jon."
BEASON: "Well, you heard it first right here. Reporting live, Panther Pulse."
I tell Beason he's pretty good.
"You just shoot from the hip and hope nothing bad comes out of it," Beason says.
Beason stops asking questions and starts answering them. As he does, a big black truck subtly pulls up behind him and HONKS!
Eleven people jump.
"That will never get old for him," Beason says.
Out of the truck steps fellow linebacker Thomas Davis.
In the past, Beason has jumped David Thompson high when Davis honks, and Davis always honks.
Beason jumps only a few inches Thursday.
"I'm proud of myself," Beason says.