CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich isn’t concerned over Bryce Young’s limited playing time in the preseason impacting his readiness for the upcoming regular season.
The No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft has only attempted 12 passes through two exhibition games with very limited success, completing seven for 56 yards with no touchdowns. Young has led five drives with three of them resulting in three-and-outs. The Panthers have scored just three points with the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner under center.
“Yes, I feel he will be ready,” Reich said Monday. “He’s very accomplished mentally and maturity-wise.”
Reich said he’s relying on Young’s extensive workload in practice to help him prepare for the team’s Sept. 10 regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, which Young will start.
“He’s gotten a lot of work and reps,” Reich said. “That’s why we made the decision back in the spring to announce him as the starter and put our team in a position to say ‘hey, this is who we are going to be moving forward.’ We are practicing at a high level that I think is preparing us for the season.”
Young also said he feels he’ll be ready for the regular season, although he still has things he wants to improve on over the next couple of weeks including his timing and footwork.
“The competitor in myself, and I think all of us, you want to keep playing,” Young said of the preseason. “But there is a reason for everything and we all trust in the coaches.”
The Panthers aren’t alone in limiting the reps of their rookie quarterback.
Reich’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts, didn’t even play Anthony Richardson in this past weekend’s preseason game against the Chicago Bears just four days after selecting him as the Week 1 starter.
Reich said the Panthers only played Young two series on Friday night in part because they were facing a New York Giants defense that has a reputation for being a blitz-heavy team.
Carolina’s offensive line has largely struggled to protect Young in the preseason, so Reich didn’t want to chance an injury.
“When you go up against that scheme that we faced last week it can be a blitz fest,” Reich said. “And you’re like, ‘how much of it is worth it?’” Reich said. “It was great to prepare for it, and go through the mental exercise of getting ready for all of these blitzes, but then it’s risk-reward on how much you play.”
Reich reiterated that Young will play in the final preseason game Friday night against the Detroit Lions, although he wouldn’t say how much.
“We’d like to get a little rhythm going and accomplish certain things, so we will play it by ear,” Reich said.
It’s been somewhat difficult to evaluate Young’s performance through two games because of Carolina’s struggles to protect him. The rookie was hit three times on seven drop-back passes in the team’s first preseason game against the New York Jets.
Young said he’s confident the offense will get the wrinkles ironed out.
Reich said overall he’s pleased with how the rookie QB has progressed and the poise he displayed in the pocket against the Giants while leading a 15-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in a field goal.
“I thought his reads were pretty sharp,” Reich said. “There was one play where he was pretty off, but that was it. Other than that I thought he looked crisp in the pocket, decisive and was really seeing things well. Other than that one play I thought his eyes were in the right place.”
The Panthers waived defensive tackle Marquan McCall, who had been listed as the team’s starting defensive tackle in the unofficial depth chart. McCall was an undrafted rookie in 2022 who played 16 games last season for the Panthers. Reich said it came down to McCall not being the right fit for the team’s 3-4 defensive scheme.