Bryce Young floated out of the pocket to his left and kept his eyes downfield.
After avoiding the “rush” in the noncontact 11-on-11 drill, Young threw across his body — still on the move — and hit former South Carolina wideout Josh Vann — an undrafted rookie — on a deep crossing route toward the sideline for an impressive completion.
The play was the highlight of rookie minicamp, which concluded Saturday.
“I’m lucky he saw me,” Vann said with a laugh after practice. “He threw it to me, and I got to make him look good and catch the ball.”
Young, the first overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, put together back-to-back strong days to start his Panthers’ career. Targeting the likes of second-round pick Jonathan Mingo, Vann and Austin Proehl (more on him later), Young was able to lead efficient practices under the guidance of Reich, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown and quarterbacks coach Josh McCown.
“I think he’s going to progress quickly in anything he does,” Reich said. “I think we all know that’s the kind of person he is. That’s the kind of player he is — how fast his mind thinks, and how gifted he is physically. You can just see him throwing the football out there — how easy it is for him. A couple of us coaches were talking — we like to talk about ‘low RPM mode,’ where it’s just easy for him, you can see that.”
Following the minicamp’s final workout, Reich reiterated that Young would be the backup quarterback heading into the heart of the offseason program. However, Reich also said that Young is likely to receive more reps than veteran Andy Dalton — the current starter — because the staff wants Young to get more experience throughout the offseason program.
“The good thing with Andy is he’s logged a lot (of work) the last couple of weeks,” Reich said. “As a savvy veteran, he still needs the work, but we’ll focus on getting Bryce — as the younger player — focused on getting as many reps as we can.”
Greene, Proehl try to create their Panthers legacies
A pair of potential second-generation Panthers players tried out for Carolina this weekend.
Austin Proehl — son of former Panthers receiver and position coach Ricky Proehl — and Gavin Greene — son of Hall of Fame pass rusher Kevin Greene — worked out in front of Reich, former receiver Steve Smith and former GM Bill Polian this weekend.
Smith and Polian were guests on Friday, while Greene and Proehl were hoping to forge their own career paths in the shadows of their talented fathers.
“It was kind of cool,” Reich said. “Obviously, I know both of their dads. They both look good. So, it was good to have them out there. You can just tell they’ve been around this world and carried themselves in that way. They understand football and it shows.”
Proehl, a Charlotte native, served as a Panthers ball boy while attending Providence High School in Charlotte. The 27-year-old receiver called Smith his second dad, given how much time the pair had spent together over the years. Smith coached Proehl up a bit on Friday, and the young wide receiver — who spent the spring in the XFL — was grateful for the time spent with one of his dad’s closest confidants.
“I always get time with Steve,” Proehl said. “We always carve out some time to just speak. In New York last year, he came up for a day when I was with the Giants. We just carved out some time, and it’s just always good to hear his feedback. He’s always going to be harder on me than the rest of the room, and I respect that. I love it. I love being critiqued, I love being coached and it’s cool to have him in my corner.”
Greene, who finished his college career at Mississippi College, spoke with passion as he discussed his father’s legacy. Kevin Greene passed away in 2020, and Gavin Greene, 25, compared his playing style to his late dad’s aggressive approach.
“My mentality is I’m going to break your face,” Greene said. “That’s the first thing I’m going to do. My play is very much like my dad in establishing that physical aspect of the game. Everything is just so violent and fast and quick and also just passion.”
Greene — listed as 6 foot and 250 pounds — never got to see his dad play for the Panthers in 1996, and he was a toddler when the older Greene retired in 2000. But being around Bank of America Stadium this weekend helped him appreciate their shared history with the franchise.
“It’s surreal,” Greene said. “Because apparently these walls haven’t changed since my dad played. So, I’m legit walking the same exact paths that my dad did, and that’s really special to me, especially with the current situation of him being gone and everything. It means a lot to me.”
Greene and Proehl both competed during the two days of practice and will now be evaluated by the coaching and front office staffs. If either is signed, they’ll continue to walk the halls once occupied by their dads.
“I think it’s awesome,” Proehl said. “Both of our pops have made a way for themselves for our families. . . . We were both blessed growing up with dads who set an example for us to follow. And I think (Greene) would say the same thing — we want to create our own path, and we both want to make a name for ourselves.”
▪ Defensive back Jammie Robinson, a fifth-round pick, put together a strong string of back-to-back practices. Working at both safety and nickel corner, Robinson played very well in coverage, even shutting down Mingo during an 11-on-11 play on Saturday.
Following practice, Reich praised the rookie’s performance.
“Just a tough guy, a competitor,” Reich said. “When you get safeties there that can do well in coverage, that gives you another element, right? You know what the safeties are going to do in run support and playing zone coverage, but when you can match up a little bit right there, that just gives you one step up and an advantage at that position.”
▪ Regarding potential joint practices in training camp, Reich said that he has spoken to some of the head coaches from the Panthers’ preseason slate about the possibility. The Panthers will play the New York Jets (Week 1), New York Giants (Week 2) and Detroit Lions (Week 3) during the exhibition season. They’ll host the Jets and Lions at Bank of America Stadium and be on the road against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
▪ Jordan Thomas, who played both tight end and edge rusher this weekend in practice, had a nice Saturday performance in team drills. At tight end, Thomas caught the ball cleanly and made plays when his number was called. He was one of the more interesting tryout players this weekend.
▪ Speaking of tryout players, Reich said the Panthers are likely to sign a couple of them from the minicamp this week. Reich didn’t specify which tryout players would be signed, but there are four openings on the roster as of the end of the camp. The Panthers have 86 players accounted for — including Young and Mingo, who haven’t signed contracts — heading into the week.