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Carolina Panthers

Bryce Young making the most of "limited opportunities" in preseason

Bryce Young

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Bryce Young is in the business of making his reps count.

They aren't necessarily coming at him in droves throughout the preseason; he's thrown six passes in each of the two preseason games.

Friday against the New York Giants, Young went 3-of-6 passing for 35 yards. And he led his first scoring drive as a Panther, a 15-play, 62-yard drive that ground more than 10 minutes off the clock.

"It's limited opportunities, but you've got to make those count," Young said. "And I think, just listening to coaches stressing urgency of every situation, every down. You get a limited amount of reps in the preseason, but you have to make them count. Because of that, there's a lot of emphasis to be the best we can."

He hasn't thrown a touchdown, but he also hasn't thrown an interception. He's taken two sacks, led five total series, and only played behind the same offensive line for two of those.

The Panthers opted to keep the right guard spot steady between Young's first and second drive after plugging in three different options on three different series in the first game. Rookie Chandler Zavala slotted in there with the regular first team for the entirety of Young's time at the helm.

Young said communication as an offensive unit felt like a place he could sense improvement from the first preseason game to the second, pointing out his connection with starting center Bradley Bozeman as a positive.

"We did a couple different things communication wise, and I think, for the most part, we handled that well," Young said. "That's not just me, that's with Boze and the entire O-line, and then with receivers and running backs too, just making sure we're on the same page. I think operationally, we added a couple of things, and I think there's always room for improvement, but I think we handled that well."

Young's longest pass came on a first-down connection with fellow rookie wide receiver Jonathan Mingo, who had missed one of Young's passes previously on account of "miscommunication," Young said.

But on the 15-yard reception, Mingo made the most of a short throw from Young – and he credited his preparation for New York defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.

Young said the week still largely felt like a week of training camp, but that they did spend a chunk of time preparing for Martindale's blitz-heavy and aggressive defensive style.

"We still ran stuff that was training camp stuff for us, but we watched a little (Giants) stuff," Young said. "Going up a defensive coordinator like Wink, obviously, you want to go in there a little prepared. So we were kind of in the middle."

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the fact Young led his first scoring drive (and the Panthers' first scoring drive) of the preseason.

It wasn't a touchdown; Young still has that on the table. But he did get fill-in kicker Matthew Wright in position to make a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter against New York.

Young actually drove the offense closer – within the Giants' 10-yard line – but back-to-back delay of game and holding penalties created a third-and-31 situation, which Young's 13-yard connection with DJ Chark Jr. couldn't make up for.

"It's always good to put points on the board," Young said. "That's a huge goal for us as an offense. It feels good, but I think it's just a day-by-day approach. Watching the film, I feel like there's always room for improvement, always stuff I'm trying to grow in day by day.

"The more reps, more experience, you know, especially when you get to go against another team in a game environment, that's a valuable experience for me, especially at this stage. So definitely grateful for it. A lot I want to improve on and get better at, but I'm going to keep taking it day by day."

Head coach Frank Reich wouldn't commit when asked if Young would play in the last preseason game next Friday against the Lions at Bank of America Stadium, saying the plan is for "everybody to get ready to play" before committing to anyone's workload.

As for Young, he's placing faith in the coaches and their plan for him.

He doesn't know specifics yet, but he'll be ready to go next weekend if duty calls, or he'll wait until Sept. 10 at Atlanta.

"I'm going to trust the coaches," Young said. "Honestly, I don't know what the procedure is, and again, I know coaches are different. I wholeheartedly trust the coaches and whatever their decision is. We haven't talked about or discussed anything, but whatever coach Reich wants me to do and thinks is going to be the best for me and for the team, that's what I'm going to do."

Check out scenes from the Panthers' second preseason game against the New York Giants.

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