Class Time

Mortty Ivy's first experience in a professional football camp was different in a couple of respects from his college time at West Virginia.

Ivy, a stalwart at linebacker for West Virginia and a four-time bowl winner, was certainly a student of the game at WVU. However, he found that there was even more class time at his first NFL camp than he ever went through in college.

"That's the main difference," he noted after completing his first minicamp with the Carolina Panthers. "There are a lot more meetings than there were in college. You meet way more than you practice."

The Panthers, who didn't hold a separate camp session for draftees and free agents, expected their players to hit the ground running. Many things that might have been taught by coaches on the college level are expected to be picked up by rookies and newcomers on their own.

"Being at camp was fun, but Carolina's was a little different than some others, because basically everybody on the team was there," Ivy explained. "We were right there with all of the older guys. You have to learn from the veterans. You watch them, and ask questions, and you learn how to practice.

"There's not a lot more detail in what we are studying or learning, but you have to make sure you keep up. You have to ask the veterans what to do and how to do things. You ask them make sure you are doing things right. Here, the position coach can only coach so many people, and they don't have time to do it with everyone over and over. They teach you in meetings, then you have to learn from veterans."

One of the players that Ivy latched on to was linebacker Jon Beason from Miami, a third-year veteran.

"I spent time with him, asking him questions, and made sure I was doing everything right," Ivy noted. "I think I did pretty well. You have to learn a new system, and this one is totally new from what I was used to at West Virginia. You have to pay attention in meetings, take notes, and study."

Ivy's NFL practices were also more focused on team drills than individual work. The latter skills are expected to already be ingrained in players on the pro level, so there isn't a lot of on-field time devoted to technique or individual work. Once players hit the field, the bulk of the time is spent on working as a unit, then melding those into the defensive scheme. There isn't much margin for error either – make a few mistakes and you're not likely to be long for the league.

So far, however, Ivy thinks he is on the right track. The free agent signee heads back to Carolina this weekend for his second mini-camp session, where he will attempt to impress enough to hold on to a roster spot. The Panthers currently have 11 linebackers on the roster, including three rookies.

"I think I did pretty well, but you don't get a lot of verbal feedback," he noted. "Basically, your feedback is whether or not you get reps. If you get enough, you know you are doing things right. I think I did o.k., but I brought all of the notes home that I took, and I've been reviewing those to make sure I know them and know what I'm supposed to be doing. I expect we'll be doing more of the same things at the upcoming camp, so I have to be sure I know everything and am making the right reads."


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