Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 6/20/12

As the Panthers wind down their offseason training schedule and begin to prepare for training camp, Panther fans are beginning to smell that football is in the air. In fact, fans have already gotten a taste of what Panthers football will look like in 2012, as evidenced by the impressive turnout to Bank of America stadium to watch the Panthers run their OTA drills. Over 5,000 fans were in attendance last week to watch their favorite players do little more than run drills in mesh shorts and stretch for extended periods of time. Over 5,000 fans! You couldn’t get that many to a Bobcats game even if Michael Jordan promised to personally serve everyone nachos.

But fans were there. And they were there in full force, equipped with footballs and pens ready for autographs and giant cardboard cutouts of Cam Newton’s head. The city is ready put their full support behind this team, and with good reason. 

This season’s OTAs had a certain feel that has been absent in recent years. The players had a certain confidence about them, as if they know they are on the verge of something special. Players had an eagerness to get back on the field, like they have been waiting for this moment since week 17 of last season. They were joking around. They were pushing each other. They were cheering on teammates. Even players who are returning from injuries, like Thomas Davis and David Gettis, looked like they were itching to strap on the helmets. The team was interacting with fans in a way that almost made the practice seem like a fan festival. The energy was emanating from the team to the fans, and everyone could feel it. 

I can’t remember another time in Carolina where fans were this excited about football in the middle of June. Of course, with much attention and excitement come expectations. And there will certainly be many of those this season. 

After practice, Coach Ron Rivera acknowledged that much will be expected from the devoted Carolina fans this season. But after seeing this team this month, there is no doubt they can live up to those expectations. September can’t come here fast enough.   

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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