CHARLOTTE — The stuff Jaycee Horn is in the training room for now is practically nothing after the year he went through last season.
And the way he got through it got the attention of his peers.
The Panthers cornerback was named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for last season for the way he came back from a serious foot injury to play at a high level again. The award recognizes players from each team "who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage," and they're honored at an event in Baltimore each spring.
"It was a process; that's probably the best way to explain it," Horn said. "You have your highs and lows, but my main thing was to keep going. To take the good with the good and the bad with the bad.
"But don't stop going and trying to get better."
Horn suffered a broken foot in Week 3 of his rookie season, which knocked him out for the rest of the year. It was a difficult process for the first-round pick, who was already showing signs of being the kind of shutdown corner you expect when you take one with the eighth overall pick.
But the hardest part for Horn was occasionally the isolation he felt. Injured players are there but not really there, so his absence from the normal routine was as much of an adjustment as the physical pain.
"Being around your teammates, just being around football, makes you feel like you're part of the team," Horn said. "Because when you're hurt, you're not in practice, you're not in meetings, you feel like you're kind of just existing. Being around teammates definitely helped."
Things were going well for Horn throughout the offseason, and through the spring, he was feeling good and eager to get back out one the field.
But when he arrived in Spartanburg for training camp, he began to feel a new sensation, a soreness in his foot which sidelined him for weeks of the prep work he had been building up to.
"In camp, I kind of struggled with it," he said. "I had been doing good all offseason, but when I got to camp, it got sore on me, so that was kind of frustrating. Because in OTAs, I felt great playing on it every day. In the offseason, when I was training, I felt great. But as soon as I got to camp, it got achy and started bothering me, which it hadn't done in three months. So that was the most frustrating part.
"The things I did to get through it, I just surrounded myself by my teammates. We were in Wofford, so we were around everybody a lot. This (athletic) training staff, they just kept me in the right headspace, kept me rehabbing and doing the necessary things."
The work paid off because Horn quickly returned to the high level of play they got a brief glimpse of last year.
He came back to lead the team with three interceptions this season and tied for the team lead with seven passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, the 28 receptions he allowed this season were the second-fewest among starting cornerbacks in the league.
"By the time the season came, I was good," he said. "I think I'm over the hill as far as my foot."
Of course, the end of the year brought a new problem, as he suffered a broken wrist in the late-season win over Detroit, which kept him out of the decisive game at Tampa the following week.
Horn admitted that if they'd have won that game, he'd have likely closen to "club it up" and play the following week against the Saints.
Now, the cast is gone, and he's recovering from a much less serious issue. He joked that if last year's foot injury was a 7 or 8 on the pain scale, this one barely registers.
"This is a 1," Horn said. "I ain't worried about it. This is just a little knick-knack; I'll be good."
And this time, he knows he's surrounded by people who have his back, which helps make the process easier to handle.
PANTHERS' PAST WINNERS OF THE ED BLOCK COURAGE AWARD
2021 - Jeremy Chinn
2020 - Brian Burns
2019 - Shaq Thompson
2018 - Julius Peppers
2017 - Graham Gano
2016 - Luke Kuechly
2015 - Cam Newton
2014 - Greg Olsen
2013 - Ryan Kalil
2012 - Ron Edwards
2011 - Thomas Davis
2010 - Jordan Gross
2009 - Dan Connor
2008 - Jake Delhomme
2007 - Mike Rucker
2006 - Colin Branch
2005 - Steve Smith Sr.
2004 - Mark Fields
2003 - DeShaun Foster
2002 - Kevin Donnalley
2001 - Patrick Jeffers
2000 - Mushin Muhammad
1999 - Mike Minter
1998 - Steve Beuerlein
1997 - Tshimanga Biakabutuka
1996 - Lamar Lathon
1995 - Brett Maxie
A look at some of the best shots of Panthers CB Jaycee Horn from the 2022 season.