CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bryce Young’s time is now in Carolina.
The Panthers have given Young the first-team reps in practice this week, a move that coach Frank Reich called the next step in the rookie quarterback’s progression.
Reich anticipates Young will continue to get first-team reps “for now” as the Panthers prepare for their mandatory minicamp session next week and training camp at the end of July. Reich stopped short of naming Young the team’s starting quarterback this season, saying there is plenty of time to make that decision.
“Not yet,” Reich said. “But he has shown everything you want to see. You don’t make a decision until you have to make it. We will just keep giving him the opportunity to get better and earn that starting role. So far he and a lot of guys have taken the steps needed to earn that spot, but we don’t have to make that decision yet. So we will keep chugging along.”
Young, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took over first-team reps from veteran Andy Dalton earlier this week, but Thursday was the first time reporters were allowed at practice.
Reich said he informed Young and Dalton of the switch late last week so they’d be prepared.
Young downplayed the promotion.
“For me it’s just about attacking every day and trying to do everything I can to get better for the team,” Young said. “Pushing ourselves to accomplish our goals. Where that is all at is out of my hands and is up to the coaches.”
Reich said he had high expectations for Young coming into the offseason in terms of learning a new offensive scheme and the former Alabama star has met them all.
“There is stuff that he has not done before,” Reich said. “There is a lot that he has done before. But I hope it has been challenging to him. I think it has been. He’s like everyone else out here, you run enough plays and you are going to make some mistakes and learn from them. But he has been great about that.”
Wide receiver D.J. Chark, who joined the Panthers this past offseason as a free agent and spending last season with the Detroit Lions, has been impressed with Young’s approach.
He called Young “approachable” and said the young QB relates well to his teammates in the huddle, often joking around when appropriate.
“He’s very much in control and I can tell you now that he has the respect of everyone in that locker room, and he hasn’t done anything to lose that respect. He only continues to gain it,” Chark said.
Panthers running back Miles Sanders spent last season alongside another young star quarterback who also played at Alabama in Jalen Hurts with the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, and sees similarities in how quickly they pick up details of the offense.
“Shout out to Nick Saban,” Sanders said of the Crimson Tide coach. “I don’t know what you’re doing with those Alabama guys but they are sharp. Bryce is very sharp, very intelligent. You don’t expect too much from a rookie quarterback, but he has really taken command of the offense.
“He’s having fun out there. He’s not too serious. He’s relaxing and he’s making plays, too.”
Added Chark: “Everyone is here for him, and we believe he can take us to some really high places.”
Injuries continue to plague Panthers starting cornerback Jaycee Horn, who will be sidelined for minicamp with a foot injury. However, Reich said Horn will not need surgery and should be ready for the start of training camp.
Horn, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 draft, has missed 18 games in his first two seasons because of injuries.
NEW NUMBER FOR BURNS
Panthers defensive end Brian Burns announced he’s switching to 0 this season, becoming the first Carolina player ever to wear the number since the organization opened play in 1995.
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