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

Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Big expectations as top pick Young, Panthers set to open training camp
The Panthers have not been to the NFL playoffs since 2017 as they open a new training camp

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young is set to begin his first NFL training camp amid lofty expectations.

The Panthers have not been to the playoffs since 2017 and Young, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, has been entrusted with the task of making Carolina relevant again.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama, who is well polished when it comes to his dealings with reporters, smiled and took it all in stride on his 22nd birthday as he addressed a large group of reporters at Wofford College not seen here since Cam Newton's arrival as the top pick in 2011.

"The expectations for me and really everyone are to just push each other and make sure we get the best that we can out of each other every single day," Young said on the eve of his first NFL training camp practice. "If we keep stacking those days then that's all we can really control."

Young will try to do what Newton didn't - win a Super Bowl for the Panthers.

That's been the clearly stated goal of team owner David Tepper ever since the Panthers traded away four draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore to move up from the ninth spot to get Young, an undersized but highly successful quarterback who went 24-3 in two years as Alabama's starter.

Tepper said in April he anticipates the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Young winning multiple Super Bowls for Carolina.

"There is no sure thing here, but it's a probability sort of (thing) - and we thought he has the best probability of winning Super Bowls," Tepper said.

Young enters training camp as the presumptive starter after wrestling away first-team reps from 12-year NFL veteran Andy Dalton at OTAs in June.

He's already gained the respect of his teammates in his brief time with the franchise through a professional approach, relationship building, and the amount of time he spends in the film room.

Tight end Hayden Hurst said in many ways Young is similar to his former teammate Joe Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"He's not in your face, he's not screaming," Hurst said. "He is just in there watching film every day. You don't want to let guys like that down because you know they're going to come to practice every single day and be on top of their stuff. So you better be on top of yours as well."

Panthers running back Miles Sanders has noticed it, too.

"He's sharp, man," Sanders said. "(Coach) Nick Saban is doing a great job down there at Alabama. I played with another Alabama quarterback in Philly (Jalen Hurts) and all I can say is them boys is sharp. I'm excited to see what he can do this year."

The Panthers have been searching for quarterback stability for the past five seasons, a journey that includes signing free agent Teddy Bridgewater, trading for Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, bringing back Newton for an unsuccessful second stint, and a failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson.

Cornerback Jaycee Horn, now in his third season in Carolina, said there's been a noticeable uptick in enthusiasm within the organization since Young's arrival.

"Oh yeah, the No. 1 pick, a new coach (in Frank Reich), and learning a whole bunch of different things," Horn said. "Bryce was great in OTAs, so I'm excited to get out and work with him - and hopefully pick him off once or twice."

The NFC South appears up for grabs.

Tampa Bay is moving on following Tom Brady's retirement, while Atlanta and New Orleans appear in rebuild mode as well.

"It's a huge opportunity for us to win a division and make some noise," Horn said. "But no matter what we have on paper - the No. 1 pick, these defensive acquisitions - it don't matter if you don't put in the work. We're going to try to go out and do that these next couple of weeks."

NOTES: Panthers starting guard Austin Corbett has been placed on the PUP list after tearing his ACL in the final game of the 2022 season. Reich previously said Corbett is likely to miss some games. ... Horn, the No. 8 overall pick in 2021, said he's recovered from an offseason foot injury and plans to practice Wednesday.