Travelle Wharton has eight years of NFL experience under his belt including 99 starts as a member of the Carolina Panthers. But before taking the field on Friday for his first training camp practice as a member of the Bengals, Wharton was a bit nervous.
“I don’t know if I slept the night before because I was just ready to get to work,” said Wharton. “I woke up every hour checking the clock to make sure I wouldn’t be late. Coming into a new team, it’s a mix of everything – different schedule, different everything – and I’m coming in and just taking it all in.”
Unfortunately for Travelle, his practice debut with his new team ended early as he was one of three players who had to exit due to heat and hydration issues.
“It got me at the end,” said Wharton. “That surprised me because I’ve been down in the Carolinas my whole life and it’s really humid, but it was a hot one yesterday. I’m taking in my fluids and I’ll have a great day today.”
“With the humidity and heat the way it was yesterday and with the storms rolling around us the last couple of days, it zapped some of the guys,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “But everybody this morning seems to be back and ready to go.”
Wharton is expected to be the Bengals starting left guard this year after signing a reported 3 year/$10 million contract as a free agent on March 17th. He brings a reputation for being an outstanding run blocker after starting at both guard and tackle for Carolina.
“I can learn a lot from him,” said Bengals rookie Kevin Zeitler. “You can only learn certain things from experience, and just watching him on film and talking to him about certain techniques – there’s a whole wealth of knowledge there.”
“My job is to come in here and be a great teammate and make my blocks,” said Wharton. “I really can’t control anything else. I just want to come in here and play the best football of my career.”
With the Panthers last year, Wharton helped rookie QB Cam Newton compile 4051 passing yards with 21 TD and 706 rushing yards with 14 TD. Now he’s eager to work with the other rookie quarterback that went to the Pro Bowl last season Andy Dalton.
“Man, it seems like he’s been around for years,” Wharton said of Dalton. “His poise, his mannerisms, and the way he carries himself – he’s going to be a pro for a very long time. The way he comes in and works and pays attention to details – it’s no secret why he is as good as he is. He has great leadership qualities.”
The Bengals are high on Wharton’s leadership ability as well, and now that he has that first practice behind him, Travelle is ready to settle in with his new team.
“You get the nerves out on day one,” said Wharton. “Everybody is anxious to get on the field, but once you’re out there and get everything going, it settles down and you’re like, ‘Alright, it’s time to play football and get after it.’”
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