The NFL sent out its annual training camp press release Tuesday and it makes note of a trend we’ve talked about before that plays heavily in the NFC South.
Three of the four teams in the division trained at their own practice facilities last season and that will stay the same this year. Only the Carolina Panthers will train away from home -- they’re at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
The Saints and the Buccaneers joined what’s been a growing trend in the NFL over the last decade when they moved their camps to their home base last year. According to the NFL, 17 of 32 teams (53 percent) will train at their regular practice facility this summer.
You want context for that? Back in 2001, only five teams trained at home. In 2002, only seven stayed home.
“As NFL training facilities evolve and develop, there is a trend to want to maximize the exposure your team has to all of the amenities that help make training camp successful,” New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said. “Training camp is a very physically and mentally demanding period of time for the players, and by being able to utilize our facilities, we feel like it is the best decision that we can make for our team.”
Although 17 teams also trained at home last summer, don’t be surprised if the Saints lead the way for more teams to stop going away for camp. The NFL is a copy-cat league and a place where a lot of coaches are superstitious. The Saints moved back to Metairie, La., last year and they went on to win the Super Bowl. That broke a streak of four Super Bowl champions who had trained away from home. It also might help start a new streak.
One final word on this topic. I don't see the Panthers moving camp home as long as John Fox is the coach. Fox is a creature of habit and believes camping helps build chemistry. Also, the trek between Charlotte and Spartanburg isn't that far and the facilities at Wofford are about as good a setup as you'll find.