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Turning the page at the Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 20, 2014

MOBILE, Ala. – The Senior Bowl has a way of reminding you how quickly teams and players turn the page.

Eight days ago, the Panthers were hosting an NFC Divisional Playoff against the San Francisco 49ers. At the time, they were one of a handful of teams remaining in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.

On Monday, the Panthers were one of many teams represented at Fairhope High School in Mobile, Ala. General manager Dave Gettleman and his scouting staff arrived for the first day of practice to get an up-close look at some of the top draft prospects.

For everyone taking part in the Senior Bowl, it's back to square one.

Take Florida State safety Terrence Brooks and linebacker Telvin Smith for instance.

Brooks, Smith and the Seminoles just won a national championship. It was the euphoric culmination of a long season and college career.

But it's over. The scouts and coaches don't give the Seminoles playing for the South squad any special treatment. They don't get to wear jerseys that say they are superior players because they won a national title.

That achievement – as great as it was – is in the past.

As is often heard in the NFL, the question now becomes, "What have you done for me lately?"

"We are here to get back to work," said Brooks, who is projected to be drafted in the middle rounds. "Me and the (Florida State) boys I came here with – we won a championship and that's good and all – but this is where it counts. We made a pact to hold a high standard when we come out here."

Smith, who is projected to be drafted in the early rounds, said "We had a great run at Florida State. We did some incredible things. But right now we are trying to let people see what we can do individually."

Those are similar messages to one head coach Ron Rivera conveyed at his end of season press conference.

"We're not satisfied, and it would be a huge mistake to think we're just going to show up and be 12-4 again," Rivera said. "It's up to me to make sure that we go forward, get better and continue to grow."

There's no time to be satisfied.

A 12-4 season and an NFC South division title were excellent achievements. But that's in the rearview mirror.

The attention quickly shifts to what's next. And in the case of the Senior Bowl and the upcoming draft, who's next.