CHARLOTTE — Derrick Brown has experienced a unique introduction to the NFL since he was drafted in April. But he has done his best to take everything in stride.
"It's not normal," the Panthers' first-round pick said Monday. "But I don't know any different when it comes to training camp. So I'm just taking it day by day."
Since being selected at No. 7 overall, Brown has spent the last few months getting to know the playbook and establishing a rapport with his new teammates. After moving to Charlotte, he began working out with fellow defensive tackle Kawann Short, trying to learn from the veteran before they even practice together. That's important because it will take some time for the duo to establish on-field chemistry.
"Just getting that experience taught down to me now, and me being able to get it on the front end rather than later on is beneficial to me," Brown said.
He also mentioned that he and other members of the Panthers' all-defensive 2020 draft class spent some time together before reporting for training camp.
"It was big for us to just get some chemistry before we got in the building," Brown said.
Asked if he'd ever been in a situation with so many new contributors and how that team fared, Brown pointed to his freshman season at Auburn. In 2016, the Tigers surrendered 17.1 points per game, which ranked seventh-best among the nation's 128 FBS programs.
"I've been a part of a defense where it's been down, and it's been brought all the way back up," Brown said. "It's about the guys in the room. It's never about anything else."
But without preseason games, the Panthers won't have an opportunity to jell against another opponent until September. And while most players are okay with skipping the preseason schedule, Brown feels like he's missing the experience.
"That's definitely something to get your feet wet," he said. "But I've been put in the situation of when we get started, it's going to be the real thing. So it's going to come about, and it's going to be best on best. And in that situation, I'll just get ready for it."
Brown was able to put on his jersey for the first time Sunday as the Panthers went through their production day photo and video shoots.
"It was kind of the realization that this is what you work for all your life, and it's finally here," Brown said. "There's a lot more work to be put in, but you know that you've started something."
In 2020, it's something that's sure to be unique.
View photos of the Panthers' rookie class lifting weights and going through a walk-through on Thursday afternoon.