It’s only been one day, but Bryce Young has already left a strong first impression on the Carolina Panthers.
Young, the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, completed his first NFL practice at Panthers rookie minicamp on Friday and “looked the part in every way,” according to Panthers head coach Frank Reich.
“Bryce made a great impression,” Reich said. “Obviously, mentally and physically, (he) looked the part in every way. Threw the ball exceedingly well. You could tell he was in a good space mentally. Really had a firm grasp on everything we asked.”
Young treated the first day as if it was his biggest because, after all, it’s the biggest NFL practice he’s had to this point.
“This is a huge day for me,” Young said, via the team website. “This is my first day of practice, which was a lot of fun. I wanted to set the tone. I was just here trying to get stuff down, like we all were. We talked about it a lot as a team, being prepared. … I just want to do everything I can to have a good first day and hopefully keep stacking them.”
Reich said they’ll be testing Young on the fundamentals frequently, and it also helps a new coaching staff get on the same page as far as what its expectations are.
“Yeah, everything is a test, right?” Reich said. “The footwork, the vision, the accuracy, and we talk about those things. The timing, you know, the decision-making, timing, and accuracy. Decision-making, timing and accuracy are the things that we talk about over and over again. Those things are always being evaluated.
“He looked good today. Some of it’s a feeling-out process, like between he and (QB coach) Josh (McCown) just talking about. We do a lot of little flexibility and freedom with each quarterback within their footwork, depending on what they’re comfortable with. We kind of have certain requirements that are musts, and then there are other things that are more of a feel thing for each quarterback. There’s a little bit of a working that out with Bryce and Josh in this process, but that’ll go smoothly.”
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Not shockingly, Reich indicated that the Panthers were spoon feeding all their rookies on Day 1, installing some basics and core principles to the first-year players and other tryout candidates.
“We keep the install relatively light,” Reich said. “I’d say we want to challenge them a little bit, but we try to find that fine line. I thought (offensive coordinator) Thomas Brown did a good job with the guys today getting everything and installing it. The position coaches did a good job. I think all the players kinda took to it quickly.
“We were able to pace things out there, right? Because you don’t have big numbers out there, so we’re kinda going slow. There’s a lot of coaching going on in between plays. The goal isn’t to try to fool them out there. We want to put them in the best position to show us what they can do.”
These practice sessions are essentially walk-throughs, but even Young connecting on a deep ball on the final play in 11-on-11 work opened Reich’s eyes.
“I always think it means something, right? It means something. You always want to finish on a positive note,” Reich said. “I thought Bryce did not only a good job with himself but just really commanding the huddle. Kinda keeping everybody loose. Keeping everybody dialed into what we were doing. I thought the guys did a good job.”
Young is just starting his NFL journey, almost four months away from the start of the 2023 NFL season, so the process is just beginning. The Panthers will allow him to battle for the starting QB job, and Young has to be considered the overwhelming favorite to win it, although veteran Andy Dalton certainly could start if Young needs time. The other quarterbacks on the roster include Matt Corral and Jacob Eason.
But as far as first days go, Young’s appeared to be everything the Panthers were hoping and then some.
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