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Bryce Young’s grip on the starting quarterback spot on the Carolina Panthers’ depth chart is tightening, but head coach Frank Reich isn’t ready to name him the starter just yet.
Young took snaps with the starters at mandatory minicamp Thursday, marking the first time he’s moved ahead of Andy Dalton this offseason.
“Bryce has taken the snaps with the ones this week,” Reich told reporters Thursday. “That was something at the beginning that (general manager) Scott (Fitterer) and I kind of earmarked the time when we thought would be best. Kind of mapping out, talked it through with the staff, you know, at the beginning of the offseason, this was kind of the time that we had marked this week to just kind of move him up.”
While Reich has kept his young quarterback working with backups for most of the offseason, it would be a shock if Young was not the starter come Week 1. The Panthers did not trade up for the No. 1 pick to use the selection on a backup quarterback.
Every NFL team knows the best window to compete for a Super Bowl is while a young star signal-caller is playing on his rookie deal. The Panthers aren’t going to know whether Young is a Super Bowl-quality quarterback by sitting him behind Dalton, who topped out as an average starter even during his prime. There’s no logic behind Young sitting for any extended period.
“It’s just the next step,” Reich said. “There’s really nothing to say other than, ‘Hey, we just wanted to move him up this week.’ Felt like it’s been the right time. He had a couple weeks to watch Andy. That was really good stuff. Andy’s continued to perform at a very high level. Bryce is doing well. Matt [Corral] is doing well. Just trying to get our team ready.”
Young threw for 8,356 yards and 80 touchdowns against 12 interceptions during his career at Alabama, winning the 2021 Heisman Trophy and emerging as one of the most complete quarterback prospects in recent seasons. The only knock on Young has been his height (5’10”) and size (194 pounds), which has caused some concern about his long-term durability.
That said, if Young stays healthy, he should have an instant impact in Carolina—provided he’s given the job.