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For Bryce Young and Dave Canales, the emphasis is on details

Bryce Young, Dave Canales

CHARLOTTE — With the Panthers going through the first day of OTAs on Monday, there was a lot of new, the kind of things you can talk about from a 30,000-foot view.

With all the new coaches and all the new systems and players, it's easy to see that.

For Dave Canales and Bryce Young, however, the focus was much narrower, more granular, and very detailed.

Rather than sweeping generalizations about the impact of new weapons, the coach was more worried about details as fine as Young's cadences, stopping him during drills to teach and refine. And the quarterback was grateful to have the meticulous attention on his footwork as they build a new offense from the ground up.

"It's been a great learning experience for me," Young said Monday. "Learning all the new concepts, learning the footwork that we have with it, learning reads. Football is very similar; you do a lot of the same things, but we definitely have some new stuff, some stuff that, for me, it's just been a good opportunity to learn and step back and look at things from a different perspective."

When Young was thrown into his rookie year after being chosen first overall, the immediate need was to teach him a new system, and the priority was on the global perspective of the offense. Now, he's going from macro to micro and learning in a different way.

But Canales said he wants to teach his system in a "part-to-whole" manner, so they ran plays Monday out of one formation or personnel grouping, knowing that with time, they'll expand both. That allows them to drill down into specifics now, building a firm foundation for that eventual expansion.

So, while there were a number of downfield throws in Monday's practice, including some deep shots to Ian Thomas and Adam Thielen, Canales may have missed it because his focus was at ground level on Young's feet.

"One of the things that I love is I can really focus in on his footwork and his base and the mechanics of where his eyes are at when I know the ball's hitting the receivers," Canales replied when asked a question about Young's downfield accuracy. "For the last couple of weeks, he's been throwing on air; I don't have to worry about where the ball's going. He's very accurate. And I know they're pros, right? So people have this expectation that quarterbacks are accurate, but I know that some guys are more accurate than others.

"So I think it's the ability of Bryce to be able to throw it at different body types, different speeds, different quicknesses at the top of route. So I'm really impressed with that part of it."

Again, a busy offseason has brought Young a variety of weapons he didn't necessarily enjoy last season, from a smallish route-runner like Diontae Johnson or the size-speed threat of first-rounder Xavier Legette to the (eventual) addition of a bell-cow back like Jonathon Brooks, or a rangy pass-catching tight end such as Ja'Tavion Sanders, draft picks who are different body types than current options.

But because they're starting at the beginning (Monday was the first lap through the nine offensive installs they're doing against defensive teammates), Canales was more worried about the details than such big-picture questions of how Young will adapt to a better grade of weapon or different shapes.

"The starting point for us is we just put in some core concepts and ask our guys to kind of fit the core concepts that won't stay that way," Canales said. "The commitment of the offense and defense and our staff is let's become what our players do well, but I think right now we're still in such a general phase that we're not really honing in on the different skill sets of each guy, it shows up in windows. But we'll move guys in formation; we'll put someone who may traditionally be an outside receiver will end up in the slot. A tight end may be outside at some points, and the backs will be involved in empty (formations). So I think we're still pretty early with that process."

For his part, this is great with Young. He's always worked in a very granular way, always looking at the task at hand. So the question of how something might look in September isn't on his radar right now because he's always been very daily in his focus.

While comparisons to what happened in the past aren't helpful, it's instructive that he's absolutely on board with this approach and the fact that Canales is a hands-on teacher who will explain the why and the how, as he's teaching the what. And while football at every level is given to coaches yelling, Young said Canales' delivery is conducive to processing information.

"It's just the consistency he has; he has a very calm presence," Young said. "He's someone that has a conversation with you and talks with you, good, bad, or indifferent. You can tell there's an emphasis on teaching. He wants to teach; he wants to make sure that he communicates. It's not just a, oh, that's a bad throw, or you missed; it's constructive. If you miss something, he gives you something tangible of, hey, let's get our base in order, let's focus on our, whatever it may be.

"We're definitely trying to be very detail-oriented, trying to look at small things, and that's what, especially this time of the year, is about. Obviously, it's new, but right now is when you want to be handing out the details, you want to be looking at the little things. There are little nuances that are different from last year to this year that I'm learning and getting reps in, and I think he's doing a great job of making sure that we can, when there's something small, now is the time to correct it, to do it over again, to make sure we get it right so that we can build those good habits."

It's tempting to look at the big 40-yard passes. But when you preach "get the football right," as much as Canales does, spending the time looking at your quarterback's feet instead can be more productive.

View photos of the Panthers' first day of OTAs on Monday.

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