CHARLOTTE – After just nine snaps, defensive end Daeshon Hall's rookie season was over.
"I got a little taste," Hall said, "but it was just a little taste."
Toting a takeout container from the players' lunchroom following the first day of the offseason workout program, Hall wasn't surprised that a food-related question was forthcoming. A knee injury sidelined him one game into his rookie season, but some didn't seem to think that Hall - even if healthy – looked ready for the rigors of the NFL while listed at a spindly 6-foot-5, 265 pounds.
But, with the knee no longer a concern, Hall began offseason workouts without any restrictions and with a determination to prove he is ready, willing and able to pull his weight for the Panthers' defensive front.
"My knee feels real good right now. Everything feels stable, strong," Hall said. "I'm excited. No limitations. I'm squatting, doing everything lower body.
"I'm just trying to be complete, trying to be the full package strength-wise and weight-wise. I'm just working and trying to put the finishing touches on it during offseason workouts."
Hall, selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, stumbled through a season similar to those experienced by other Panthers rookies not named Christian McCaffrey. He appeared in the first two preseason games before suffering a knee injury, then recovered just in time to see a few snaps in the season opener only to hurt the knee again in practice after the victory over the 49ers.
Carolina held out hope that Hall could recover in time to contribute in 2018 but set in stone what Hall called a "redshirt year" by placing him on injured reserve prior to Week 5 action.
"Last year really humbled me and showed me what I need to do for this year," Hall said. "When I wasn't playing, I was able to learn from the vets how to be a pro, seeing what it takes to be good at this level.
"I had a year to learn the plays and to watch and see how different guys do different things well, and then I took that and put it into my game."
For all the questions surrounding Hall's size and strength, it's easy to forget that his transition from college involved more than bulking up. Hall played predominantly in a 3-4 defense at Texas A&M and played some outside linebacker before switching to defensive end, so he's still growing into the position in more ways than one.
As for his literal growth? He's eating cleaner, going from being a "big pork guy" and gravitating to a diet heavy in chicken, fish and vegetables. Hall also kept good company on both coasts during his unofficial offseason training, spending time in North Carolina and in California.
"I was down here working and also went to San Francisco to train with some guys. Von Miller trained out there, and a whole bunch of other defensive ends," Hall said. "It's been good. I've gotten a lot stronger in the offseason."
Now, back with his teammates for the offseason workout program that will run through mid-June, Hall is hoping to put himself in a stronger position to support the likes of Julius Peppers and Mario Addison come the fall.
"I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to this year and contributing," Hall said. "I just want to get to the quarterback and help this great front that's been doing great things.
"Everything is coming together now."
View photos of the players working in the weight room as part of the 2018 offseason program.