SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have their QB1.
Coach Frank Reich wasted no time naming rookie Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, the team’s starting quarterback for the Sept. 10 opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
“When we decided to pick Bryce we imagined and saw the vision that we would be standing here today saying he is the QB1,” Reich said Wednesday.
The announcement came after the completion of the Young’s first training camp practice at Wofford College, although the decision seemed imminent after he took over first-team reps from veteran Andy Dalton during organized team activities in June.
Young, a two-year starter at Alabama and the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, will become the first rookie to start a season opener for the Panthers since Cam Newton in 2011. Newton was also a No. 1 pick and went on to earn league MVP honors for the 2015 season.
Reich vowed to be patient as Young develops as a rookie.
“We want to keep our expectations on the process and not try to make too much of any one play or any one game,” Reich said. “I think that is wisdom, that is good coaching and that is good playing. When we have a bad play, nobody is going to panic. And Bryce knows he is going to feel that from our staff. That has already been said: ‘Hey, you’re the guy, let’s go.'”
The Panthers made a commitment to Young when they traded away four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears to move up eight spots in the draft.
And owner David Tepper set the bar high in April when he said he expects the Panthers to win multiple Super Bowls under Young.
Reich knows there will be some ups and downs along the way this season.
“Nobody here is going to try to predict how it is going to play out the first year,” he said. “You just don’t know. As coaches and players we are going to try to make every attempt to avoid doing that.”
Young called it “a huge blessing ” to be named the starter so early in camp.
“That means a lot, but for me it doesn’t change my approach,” Young said. “I want to make sure I take things day by day. There are a lot of things that I want to keep growing in, keep improving in. We are all as a team in this together.”
The undersized but highly successful Young looked sharp in his first nonpadded practice at Wofford, working mostly during 6-on-8 drills.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound signal caller completed his first two pass attempts to veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen, who signed with the Panthers after spending the past 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
Young said he had some nervous energy before practice but settled down pretty quickly.
“The more reps, the more I’m able to start to feel comfortable,” Young said.
Reich said Young displayed good “mental carryover” from OTAs and he thought the 22-year-old made good quality throws, most notably a downfield strike to D.J. Chark when he was forced to get rid of the ball early after coming under pressure in the pocket.
Ultimately, Reich felt there was no need wait any longer to name Young the starter, a move that will allow him to get more reps during the preseason.
Young’s parents, Craig and Julie, attended their son’s first training camp practice and watched from the sideline.
“It was kind of like I was practicing. I couldn’t sleep last night,” Craig Young with a laugh. “I was like I can’t wait to get here, see him in the uniform and see him in the element.”
Julie Young said she is “beyond” proud of her son.
“Bryce will fool you now because he’s got this quiet demeanor, but this is a grown man,” Reich said. “He’s in control and knows what he wants and how he wants it done. And that’s a good place to start from.”
Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns decided to show up at training camp rather than holding out like San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. Like Bosa, Burns is in the final year of his contract and is seeking a large extension.
“I feel like what he have going is bigger than (my contract situation),” Burns said. “… I feel like I’m a key piece to what we need to get done, so I feel like I need to be here whether or not I’m going through negotiations.”
NOTES: Starting cornerbacks Donte Jackson (Achilles) and Jaycee Horn (foot) both returned to practice after sitting out most of offseason workouts while recovering from injuries.
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