CHARLOTTE – Chase Blackburn has been preparing for this moment for a long time.
The former Panthers linebacker who played 10 NFL seasons was never sure how long his playing career would last. But all along, he knew what he wanted do after retirement.
"Honestly, before I even knew I had a playing career, I wanted to coach," Blackburn said. "I went to school to be a teacher and a coach. From that point forward, even when I was playing, I wanted to be prepared in that manner so I knew I could transition when I was done and have an opportunity.
"Fortunately, the opportunity is here, and I'm going to try to make the most of it."
Blackburn was brought in as a special teams coaching intern, and he'll be with the team through training camp.
"Hopefully we can roll it into something more," he said with a smile.
It's a big opportunity for Blackburn – a productive special teams player throughout his career – to work alongside longtime special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven and his assistant, Thomas McGaughey.
Blackburn actually interviewed for the assistant role that went to McGaughey this offseason. He said he also interviewed for a position with the Chargers.
"This offseason was good for me," Blackburn said. "Just going through that process enlightened me to a little bit more than what I already knew. Going down to the Senior Bowl and meeting with a bunch of coaches and GMs was really valuable."
Blackburn is just beginning to get his feet wet in the coaching ranks, but he's done plenty of prep work. His coaching aspirations drove him to study meticulously when he played.
Linebackers coach Al Holcomb should know. He coached Blackburn in New York and Carolina.
"Chase was always one of those guys filling up his book," Holcomb said. "He was very detailed knowing his assignment and everyone else's assignment as well. He probably still has those notebooks today."
Indeed he does.
"I have every playbook I've ever had," Blackburn said. "All my own notes as well as all the game plans from every year and every game. I've got tons of quotes from all the coaches I played under in a separate notebook – things that I liked and enjoyed."
During individual drills at OTAs, Blackburn works with Holcomb and the linebackers, many of whom he played with from 2013-14. Holcomb believes he has the ability to enjoy a long coaching career.
"He's been champing at the bit to get into the coaching realm," Holcomb said. "He wants to be in it for the long term. He's a smart individual who understands players. I think he has what it takes."