CHARLOTTE – So far, David Foucault has passed every test.
But the Canadian offensive tackle understands that at every stage, the difficulty of the tests will only multiply.
Foucault has ascended from tryout player to member of the Panthers' 90-man roster. His next challenge – the greatest and most important to date – is to secure a roster spot for the regular season.
"I need to be ready for camp," Foucault said. "I want my place on this team."
Following a successful showing during the Panthers' offseason workout program, Foucault is spending some time in his native Montreal leading up to training camp in a month.
The fifth overall selection in the 2014 Canadian Football League draft, Foucault hopes to see players at his alma mater – the University of Montreal – help grow the game of football in his native country. He has plenty of knowledge to impart after spending the last two months around Panthers coaches and veteran players.
"I am very young at this position. I just have three years of experience, but Coach (John) Matsko and Coach (Ray) Brown put a lot of time in to get me better," Foucault said. "Matsko is the best coach I've had in my life.
"I have heard our defense is one of the best in the league. We have good defensive linemen, and our defensive ends are so fast. I've learned so much (playing against) them."
Foucault didn't know what to expect when he accepted an invitation in mid-May to participate in the Panthers' rookie minicamp as a tryout player. The 6-8, 305-pounder stood out above the crowd based on his physical stature, but his understanding of the American brand of football was dwarfed by the other players there.
However, Foucault learned on the fly. After the camp, he was one of two tryout players - along with linebacker Billy Boyko - signed to the 90-man roster.
The news left his family, which has recently dealt with its share of trials, overjoyed.
"They cried. I cried," Foucault said. "We had a lot of bad things this year, I think it was very good news to send back to my parents about what I did.
"A lot happened, a lot of stuff. My dad had prostate cancer this year. It was very tough, but now he is fine. It was good news to give them."
Foucault can only imagine the reaction if he makes the final roster spot entering the regular season.
"I'm pushing myself harder to make my parents proud of me," he said. "My first week was very tough, but right now I know the plays and I just need to focus on the small details to get even better. I need to get my weight up a little bit – maybe 10 or 15 pounds on my body - and I need to focus on my feet and the playbook. I need to get better and be focused because the tempo is very hard and fast.
"In Canada, it's all about hockey. I think in years the players in Canada will get better and better. But I am very proud to be here on this field because not a lot of Canadians play in the NFL."