The first day of practice was only open to the media for an hour. The media was not present during any scrimmaging. The team did not practice in pads, as is customary the first few practices. The first of practice in full pads is August 12, 2002. Here are some prelimary notes from day one:
- The team as a whole appeared to be in excellent condition. "Camp Connors" appears to have been quite successful. In particular, there seemed to be a noted increase overall in athleticism and flexibility.
- While the team was undoubtedly enthusiastic, there also appeared to be a noted lack of jitters as opposed to opening practice last season. This should be expected as the this is the second season for these players with the majority of the staff.
- Wide receiver Brandon Russell, who had to undergo a second surgery to his hand (the first one did not "take," was at practice though his left hand appeared to be heavily taped.
- Wide receiver Danny Rumley was also back at practice after sitting out the spring with an injury and appeared to be moving at full speed.
- Also back at practice was Andre' Williams, who underwent back surgery after last season, and like Rumley he appeared to be 100%. Williams was held out of some of the later portions of practice, as was defensive tackle Will Chapman, who is also back after knee surgery. In the portions of drills that Chapman did participate in, he was not wearing any type of knee brace. The staff seems to be working Williams and Chapman back slowly, to attempt to avoid any additional injuries.
- As he did last year, head coach John Bunting conducted one drill personally in which the entire team participated. The subject? How to tackle.
- Several players got a chance to field punts, including Michael Waddell, Jawarski Pollock, and true frosh Michael Gilmore.
- Speaking of punting, John Lafferty seems to improved his leg strength over last season.
- In the off-season, strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors told Inside Carolina that safety Defonte Coleman looked like he was "carved out of rock." Coach Connors did not exaggerate. Coleman looks in great shape. Defensive secondary coach Jim Fleming told Inside Carolina that the strong safety position was "open" at this point and that he has informed Coleman and Chris Curry that the starter at this position will be determined in fall practice. (an interview with Coach Fleming will follow on Inside Carolina this week).
- Several players are sporting the "shaved head" look this year, including center Jason Brown and cornerback Derrick Johnson.
Though our observation of practice was limited, and practice itself was essentially "no contact," the overall news is good. No injuries, and those who were injured seem to be coming along on schedule.