I’m making the short drive from NFC South Blog headquarters down to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to do some post-practice interviews with the Carolina Panthers.
As most of you know, the Panthers have left their facility at Bank of America Stadium to get out of the way of the Democratic National Convention. It’s a logical move since the Panthers open their regular season Sunday at Tampa Bay.
They pondered several facilities in the Tampa Bay area, but quickly settled on IMG Academy because they have strong ties to the place. Former Carolina quarterback Chris Weinke is the director of football operations at IMG Academy.
Weinke is also one of the people that helped prepare Carolina quarterback Cam Newton for his rookie season because the lockout prevented Newton from working with his coaches. Newton and Weinke have remained close and Newton spent some of this offseason working out at IMG Academy.
We all know Newton went out and was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. But Newton isn’t IMG’s only success story and Weinke is gaining a reputation as a quarterback guru.
When I went down to do some pre-combine stories in February, I spent some time with Russell Wilson and Weinke was singing his praises. Ryan Tannehill also was there that day, but was limited because it was his first day back after an injury.
Now that Wilson and Tannehill have been named Week 1 starters, IMG Academy has a claim to fame. One quarter of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks have trained at IMG Academy.
Most of them have been there since Weinke has taken over in recent years. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has worked out there in the past, including during last year’s lockout.
But one other NFC South quarterback worked out there long before the Weinke era. That was New Orleans’ Drew Brees. He did his combine prep there in 2001. Coincidentally, one of the other rookie quarterbacks working out at IMG that year was Weinke, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Panthers.
I'll be back with more on the Panthers after the interviews are finished.