Carolina Panthers 'excited' to build team as training camp steps up a notch

Travon Miles Image
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Panthers 'excited' to build team as training camp steps up a notch
Day two of the Carolina Panthers training camp was all about the grind.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WTVD) -- Day two of the Carolina Panthers training camp was all about the grind.

There was more urgency, and it felt as if players were on a mission to make Thursday better than Wednesday.

And that's important if this team wants to get to where it ultimately wants to be, which is atop their division.

A lot of people in NFL circles seem to think that if it all goes right, the NFC South could be Carolina's for years to come.

"We're really just excited for the opportunity," said Panthers left tackle and former NC State standout Ickey Ekwonu. "A lot of great additions on the team; we're just excited to build our team from the ground up, grow inside out, you know, whatever happens in that division happens, but we know if we handle business, then we're going to like the outcome."

"The biggest thing for us is for us to be consistent, for us to be who we are," said wide receiver DJ Chark. "And if we are who we are, we're going to be fine. We're going to be good no matter what division we are in."

It was also a day when fans sweated it out to watch the team, many of them in a No. 9 jersey.

It's Bryce Young fever at Panthers camp with fans snapping up his No. 9 jersey.

Despite being drafted just three months ago to the day, Bryce Young is quickly becoming the man for the fans.

His jersey has become one of the best sellers at camp.

Dennis Soden, director of retail, has noticed the trend.

"It's definitely a difference, without a doubt," Soden said. "I mean, we had a season-ticket member event that we sold a lot of Bryce for. To have a guy that is going to be the future of the team and the organization, that just speaks volumes."

And it turned out that playing football may not be Young's only talent.

ALSO SEE: Panthers name No. 1 pick Young as starting QB as training camp begins

The No. 1 overall draft pick wowed teammates with his rendition of Keyshia Cole's song "Love" at the team's annual rookie talent show on Wednesday night at Wofford College.

"He brought the house down," Ekwonu said.

Ekwonu was among the many who were impressed with Young's showmanship and poise on stage in front of his new Carolina teammates.

"He got everyone singing, everyone clapping, and got a standing ovation," Ekwonu said. "And he went first - that's a lot of pressure going first. I think he killed it."

Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said the performance was so good that he thought he was at a concert.

"Bryce had a hell of a performance," Thompson said. "... Everybody enjoyed it. He got into it. I'm trying to tell you, it was like a concert. He set the stage."

Thompson said he was "shocked" to learn Young had so much personality.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner is known for his quiet, humble demeanor and business-like approach to the game. But in terms of his personality, he's kept things largely even-keeled - that is, until he let it all out on stage.

"Just seeing that personality out of him," Thompson said. "It was good for us to see and good for him to be up there."

Thompson said sometimes it takes rookies time to get comfortable with their new teammates and earn trust.

"Yesterday, it was a whole different Bryce," Thompson said. "... We didn't know what to expect, but he got up there and killed it. That's it. First-round pick, he had a lot of stuff on you, and he killed it. He lived up to it."

The 22-year-old Young was not made available to reporters on Thursday after speaking during the first two days of training camp.

ALSO SEE: Big expectations as top pick Young, Panthers set to open training camp

But he said earlier in the week he was preparing for the talent show by singing in the shower, adding that he likes to do so with his eyes open.

"I'm more of a visualizer," Young said with a laugh. "I see the crowd. A little crowd control. That's more of my thing."

Young's winning performance came on the same day coach Frank Reich selected him as the team's starting quarterback. Barring injury, Young will start Carolina's Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 10.

The Associated Press contributed.