SPARTANBURG, SC: Monday, the Carolina Panthers practiced in full practice gear for the first time this season and while there were some things that carried over from last week, there was a new name that emerged to add to the radar and a competition emerging.
Young ➡️ Chark Connection Continues
Bryce Young and DJ Chark have connected on downfield passes at every training camp practice and that trend continued Monday as Chark hauled in a nearly 40 yard pass during a team portion of the session. Carolina is just four practices into the season, but these two have shown flashes of what could be a consistent downfield attack the Panthers have been lacking in recent years.
Laviska Shenault has been used at multiple positions and in multiple ways so far this training camp. Whether it is lined up as a wide receiver or running back, Versatile Viska has been a standout. Shenault added to his impressive camp during the team’s first padded practice with a 20+ yard rush up the middle during 11 versus 11 play, displaying the agility of a receiver and power of a back.
The last time the Panthers gathered on the practice fields at Wofford, Bryce Young threw an early interception, but quickly bounced back. Something similar happened Monday as Young’s first pass was a throw away and the second went right into the hands of linebacker Frankie Luvu for the interception, but after that Bryce had just one incompletion out of roughly 10 attempts. That unflappable demeanor is something that Coach Reich said quarterbacks have to have and you sometimes have to teach. Young already has it.
Competition for RB2
Make no mistake about it, with all the potential Bryce Young has the Carolina Panthers will put the run first. During the team period run plays out-numbered pass plays nearly 2-1, with Mile Sanders carrying the brunt of the load. And while his spot is solidified at the top rushing option, there’s a competition brewing for who will be his first relief off the bench. Before training camp it was assumed that job would be Chuba Hubbard’s, but Raheem Blackshear is making a strong case of his own for RB2. Blackshear, who had more receiving yards than rushing last season for the Panthers, is considered the better pass-catching back and was the team’s leading kickoff returner last season. During Monday’s practice Blackshear beat linebacker Kamu Gruiger-Hill in coverage – catching a 20 yard pass from Andy Dalton and running another 30 for a touchdown. Hubbard vs Blackshear may be the first true competition of training camp.
With Marquis Hayes nursing a back injury, first-year defensive end Kobe Jones got snaps with the ones. Jones made the most of it, meeting Hubbard and Young in the backfield on consecutive plays. One of the areas of concern on the Panthers’ defense has been the pass rush. With Brian Burns currently the only consistent rusher on the roster, player development will be key. It’s still early, but when a player flashes the way Jones did today, it you have to take notice.