CHARLOTTE — "Energy" was not a word anyone would have used to describe Bryce Young last Sunday as he sat slouched in a folding chair in the locker room at the Caesars Superdome after one of the worst of a season of too many disappointing results.
And it's not that he's bubbly and cracking jokes in a press conference setting anyway, but Wednesday was a different vibe, back from dejected and once again with the steady delivery he's taken to the lectern each week. More important was the manner he carried onto the practice field.
Getting back to center is a trait Bryce Young has had to learn as a rookie, and he's learning the new skill well, according to his teammates. He only experienced four losses in three years at Alabama, but they've lost six in a row since the lone win this year, which makes being resilient a survival skill. It's hard to learn how to deal with adversity until you experience some.
"I think that's probably where I've seen the most growth in him. It's just his maturity to come back on a Wednesday and just flush it and go back to work," veteran receiver Adam Thielen said Wednesday. "It's tough, especially when he's used to winning. It's tough, and it's a different, it's a tough league, especially at the quarterback position.
"But yeah, just his ability to kind of come back on Wednesday and just have the energy and focus to just kind of try to figure out a way to win. I think it's just his attitude and his mindset throughout the building throughout the week after a tough loss or after a tough game. His kind of energy and attitude as the weeks have progressed has gotten significantly better."
That Thielen sees it is telling because a veteran of 10 years in the league knows about the long view.
Young is not the first rookie quarterback to struggle, and interim coach Chris Tabor drew the parallel to Peyton Manning, who led the league in interceptions as a rookie and went 3-13 before turning things around.
"I've seen quarterbacks be great quarterbacks because of what they went through in their rookie season," Tabor said. "What was that player's name? Peyton Manning? He turned out OK.
"And I get your question, but I'll be honest with you: I'm going to stay more on the positive side than looking at the negative side because I think the negative side, it's way too easy. It's too easy of a conversation. The positive side, it's hard. You've got to grind through; you've got to keep going. And I'd rather be on that side because that's the challenge, and that's what competitors like."
The Panthers clearly have a long-term investment in Young and his development, which was part of the reason for a midseason coaching change (something else he never had to learn to deal with at Alabama). So, as he looked back at the Saints game in which he completed a season-low 36.1 percent of his passes for a season-low passer rating of 48.0, he worked to compartmentalize the lessons and then move on.
Tabor said he saw it in the way Young processed the game tape corrections and transitioned to the practice field Wednesday.
"I think he's come back, I think that's what a competitor does," Tabor said. "I think all players do that to certain degrees. You talked about the (blocked) punt earlier; it bothers me tremendously. And you know, all you can do now is let it drive you and go. And I think that's what Bryce will do."
Tabor mentioned when he gave players the day off Monday that part of it was to allow them to clear their heads a bit, and Young acknowledged that it helped to "reset."
"So I definitely felt like there's energy and a juice out there that comes with it," Young said. "And again, we have to carry that out and then carry it into Sunday."
That's the most important part, the playing better. Until he does that, the accumulation of soft skills won't matter as much. But even though the people he's going over film with have changed this year, he said he sensed he was picking things up more quickly now, which is what you'd hope for at this point in a long year.
"It's just being more comfortable as far as executing and seeing it efficiently and seeing it quicker," Young said. "And it's still the same stuff that you look for, and obviously, you've got different concepts, you get different schemes, and that plays a part. It's just how quickly and how efficiently I'm able to do that, and I feel like I'm growing in that and have to still continue to grow."
And as he does, he's learning how to handle things he's never had to handle, and to do it from the center of the spotlight, and not let images like last Sunday's dejection become the norm. Even if he's not feeling energy, as the quarterback, he has to project it for the rest of them.
"I think he's learned that at the quarterback position, people are looking and watching, and they're looking to see how you respond to adversity," Thielen said. "And so I think he's kind of learned that, hey, you know, this is my natural tendency maybe, but I got to kind of come out my comfort zone. That's what you've got to do."
View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday in Week 15.