CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Helicopters hovered, police officers showed their presence and the Carolina Panthers hit the practice field for the final time Sunday at Bank of America Stadium before departing for Bradenton, Florida to prepare for their regular season opener against Tampa Bay.
Wide receiver Steve Smith was back on the field, as was linebacker Jon Beason. Both are expected to play next Sunday against the Buccaneers in the regular season opener.
Smith was asked about his foot infection. He told reporters he was feeling much better and still was unsure what caused the issue that forced him to miss the better part of two weeks.
When asked about the frenzy of activity outside of the practice facility, all related to the Democratic National Convention, Smith joked with reporters, telling them it was like being back home in Los Angeles, with helicopters buzzing and police on the side walks.
Head coach Ron Rivera said the buzzing helicopters above reminded him of his childhood. Rivera grew up on a military base.
The Panthers depart Tuesday for the IMG Football Academy in Bradenton, Florida. They'll kick off the season Sunday, September 9 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.