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The NFL’s inexorable march toward the 2023 regular season is taking another step this week with 20 teams starting the Organized Team Activities (OTA) portion of their offseason.
That means full teams on the field practicing offense versus defense, albeit in shorts with no hitting.
“Chance to go full speed, chance to compete a little bit more,” Carolina coach Frank Reich told reporters after the Panthers got off the field Monday.
And, of course, the focus in Charlotte is on Bryce Young. Because he’s the quarterback. He was the first overall draft pick. And the fate of the franchise is on his shoulders.
So how was Young on Day 1 of OTAs?
Frank Reich Grades Bryce Young
“Yeah, I mean, it was 10 out of 10,” Reich said. “And so were the other guys, but just complete command, control, poise. You could tell the way he was seeing it, the way he was working through progressions.”
There’s more …
“Accuracy of the throw, ball placement of the throw was all very good,” Reich added.
Reich and his coaching staff gave Young more first-team repetitions than veteran Andy Dalton. Matt Corral took third-team snaps. Reich said there will be a rotation of those first-team reps but Young will likely get more than the others.
“It feels like we got a good plan and we’re doing the right thing,” Reich said. “We’d like to get him (Young) with the first line as much, it won’t be 100 percent, but we’d like to get him with the first O-line.”
Young seemed pleased with the session.
“It was a lot of fun, just being able to compete, just fly around a little bit,” the former University of Alabama quarterback said. “This being the first time we were against the defense and being able to go and play fast at a full speed tempo was great.”
The work was apparently not too big for Young.
Bryce Young Not Surprised In Practice
“I don’t think there’s been anything too unexpected,” Young said. “I understood the challenge of how much a change this would be. I’ve been putting all my effort and focus on trying to learn things in the playbook and try to do as much to learn the offense and go on the field and execute that.”
Young is the future starter for the Panthers. But right now he’s locked in a competition with Dalton. And the irony of that is he’s using Dalton as a resource on multiple levels.
“I’m in there trying to pick Andy’s brain as much as I can,” Young said. “He’s a great vet. Obviously he’s had a bunch of success throughout his career. Super smart. Super intelligent. You see why he’s been able to have the success he’s had.
“I’m asking him a bunch of questions. I’m watching him with the operation, how his feet are, how his eyes are. He comes back (after the play) he’ll talk and say why he went there. For me, I’m trying to soak all that in …”
Andy Dalton Is A Mentor
Young called working with the first-team “a huge honor” and said linemen “have helped me out a lot, they’ve been super great to work with. When there’s something I’m not doing right, they give me feedback. They tell me what they expect out of me.”
Young is learning but he’s working on knowing what’s supposed to happen before it occurs. Before Monday’s practice Young actually noticed one of the plays was labeled incorrectly.
“Just getting the script before practice, going through it in my head, practicing everything and there was just a tag based on the formation that didn’t make much sense,” Young said. “Again, I want to be prepared and look through everything and go through everything.
“I know it’s work. I know it’s hard. I’m learning. So as much time I can spend studying stuff and getting in the playbook and trying to learn, whether it’s calls, scripts, installs, or whatever that is, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
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Ryan Leaf probably looked good in practice.
“I think he has an opportunity to be a very good quarterback in this league,” Slaughter says. “No one can get into Ryan’s head, but I just look at practices and see he has something. I see it myself, and I’m critical of players who get drafted in the first round and are supposed to be this or that. He has a nice, strong arm, is competitive and accurate”