CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After Friday night’s preseason finale against the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young said he’s ready for the Sept. 10 opener at Atlanta in every aspect except one.
Young took a lot of ribbing from teammates for the way he sat down on the artificial turf at Bank of America Stadium after a 13-yard scramble on third down that set up his first preseason touchdown in the 26-17 loss.
“Never claimed for it to be one of my strong suits,” Young said with a smile. “We currently have slide lessons already scheduled.”
Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, later admitted he never slid during his college career at Alabama. Third-string quarterback Matt Corral said it showed.
“He’s definitely got to get better at it,” Corral said with Young listening from the next locker. “We’ve got to bring out the tarp and soap and water.”
Sliding aside, Young finished the preseason with his best effort, completing 7-of-12 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown and scrambling three times for 21 yards. He led two scoring drives to give Carolina a 10-0 lead after producing only a field goal in five drives in the first two games.
From what he has put on tape in three preseason games, completing 14-of-24 pass attempts for 129 yards and a touchdown, Young believes he’s ready for Week 1.
“That comes because of my coaches and teammates just giving me the confidence and pushing me really throughout practice,” Young said. “That prepares you a lot, and having these games under my belt, it’s great to be able to take that and translate to playing against others.”
Carolina coach Frank Reich said Young looked sharp for the second straight preseason game, adding the element of scrambling on Friday night showed yet another reason the Panthers made him the top pick of the draft.
“He was sharp and productive and made plays, and showed even more playmaking ability with his feet, the throw for the touchdown, another throw to Adam [Thielen] that Adam lost in the lights that had a decent chance to be completed,” Reich said.
Young’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Thielen on third down was a perfect strike to the front-left corner of the end zone. While it came against second- and third-team defenders, it showed the accuracy that was Young’s trademark at Alabama.
“He pretty much caught the football for me,” Thielen said. “So when you have that kind of mix of touch and precision and timing, it’s tough to stop. That’s why he’s here. That’s why he was the No. 1 pick.
“When you’re able to prove that day in and day out, it’s a good feeling.”
Young’s numbers across the board were more impressive against the Lions than in the first two games. He improved his yards per attempt from 4.7 to 6.1 and his passer rating from 70.1 to 103.8.
Better protection played a role. Young was pressured 43% of his dropbacks last week against the New York Giants and 36% in the first two games. He was pressured only 23% of the time Friday, although one resulted in a sack.
The difference is Young took off running for yards when pressured Friday night instead of running to keep the play alive for a pass. Two of his runs were for a first down on third down.
Reich said it was good to see Young use his legs and instincts to make plays.
“We’ve got to work on his sliding a little bit,” he added. “But he has that in him, that instinct, that make you miss [ability], even when a guy has him dead to rights. We’ve seen that in practice, little snippets of that.”
The next step is to perfect the sliding.