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Austin Duke training camp Q&A

Posted Jul 29, 2017

Rookie receiver from Charlotte discusses how Cam Newton is helping him straighten out his learning curve.

On the learning curve of the NFL: “I think the biggest thing is to keep learning. Take the high days with the low days and kind of balance yourself out. I’m in the process of learning the plays, and make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, where I’m supposed to be at, and when I have the opportunity to make a play, just work on my consistency.”

On measuring himself with his teammates: “I’m completely focused on myself. I think it’s a lot of energy when you try to focus on somebody else’s process. Right now, I have a process of my own and I have my work cut out for me. I’m just trying to go out there everyday, focus on things I can get better at, and things I can do to help contribute to the Carolina Panthers.”

On what it will take to make the team: “Just be myself. I have big play potential. Just continue to work my craft, continue to be who I am, and the rest will take care of itself.”

On the fan support he has received: “Oh yeah, for sure. You know, days where you had the best day that you want it and it’s good anytime you hear support. You just never know when you’re needed or who likes you. It’s not a popularity contest, but it’s always good to know people like you as a person and like you as an athlete. I think that’s always pretty cool.”

On his relationship with Cam Newton: “He has become like a big brother to me. Being able to talk to me about anything and everything, learning the offense, helping me with my mentality, helping with my sauce, just Cam being Cam. It’s always good when you got the starting quarterback, Cam Newton, rooting for you or is in your corner. Like I said, there are some dog days of camp we are about to get into and you’re just trying to go through your process. It’s always good to know you have people in your corner to help you keep going.”

On the nickname Cam Newton has given him: “Yeah, Dukey. I have gotten that my whole life. Here, there is a little different meaning, it’s not meant for the media. But it’s a good nickname; it’s pretty cool.”

On if anything has been overwhelming as a rookie: “Not necessarily overwhelming, but I think I am a pretty humble guy, so I really enjoy the opportunity of learning from the older guys. If I don’t know something, I ask or just walk. I’ve been the man at Charlotte, and I didn’t have any upperclassman showing me the ways, so I’ve always been the leader. It is a little different now, not maybe as getting as much reps as I would have like to have gotten. It’s all part of the learning process as an undrafted free agent rookie. It’s all a part of growing into the process you got to focus on and learning from it and keep going.”

The preparation Charlotte provided: “Having a vision of something that you can’t see. For the first year and a half, I redshirted. We didn’t have a stadium. So, just out there practicing at five in the morning, you would have to have something bigger on your mind than just the now. Really just focusing on my craft, focusing on what’s ahead, not really focusing on what’s going on right now. Understanding that if you go through a process, you go through it the right way, the rest will take care of itself. I think that’s the biggest thing, just maturity of going through adversity. I’m never too high and never too low. I think that’s the key foundation part of it.”

On keeping in touch with former teammate Larry Ogunjobi: “He’s doing good. I talked to him the other night. He’s doing good. He’s doing really well. We talk pretty often.”

On the dynamic of the wide receivers: “It’s young, but Shep is 26 and I think he’s done a really good job of leading the receivers. He’s done a really good job of allowing Kelvin Benjamin and Funch to lead as well. They’re not afraid to come up and talk to you. When they see something in you, they’re not afraid to come up and be like, ‘Hey, get out your head today’ or ‘Hey, on this route you could’ve done X, Y, or Z better.’ I think everybody does a really good job of kind of coaching each other up. I think that’s the biggest thing, just the mental aspect of it. There are not too many egos in there; everybody wants the best for everybody. I think that’s what kind of separates that room’s dynamic.”

On a comfort zone for being a young wide receiver: “I just go back to focusing on my process. I don’t go in there trying to compete with the next guy. I always feel like my best is good enough. I just continue to go through my process, continue to do what I need to do, and everything else will take care of itself.”

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