BRADENTON, Fla. The Panthers have had four quarterbacks on the field this week at IMG Academy, although the big, broad-shouldered guy has yet to throw a pass.
Chris Weinke, who won a Heisman Trophy at 28 with Florida State and spent six years with the Panthers, is 40 now and running the football division at IMG.
Weinke has kept close ties with the Panthers. He trained their past two first-round draft picks – quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly – at IMG, the sprawling, 450-acre complex that started as a tennis academy.
So Weinke was excited when the Panthers picked IMG as their practice site with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“This is the organization that gave me a chance to play in the NFL. I still have great relationships with people within that organization,” Weinke said Thursday. “I have a number of guys that are currently on the roster that I played with and have relationships with. And the opportunity for them to come down here, I’m just sitting back taking it all in.”
Weinke has caught up this week with general manager Marty Hurney, offensive lineman Jordan Gross and receiver Steve Smith, who was part of the same 2000 draft class with Weinke.
The Panthers brought two truckloads of equipment and supplies from Charlotte, and have been using IMG’s fields, weight room and – in the case of rehabbing running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive lineman Jeff Byers – its swimming pool.
“I think what we’ve provided them is quality,” Weinke said. “And if there’s one team that I want to see have success, it’s this team.”