CHARLOTTE – Anyone who knows linebacker Luke Kuechly knows he's been fighting the urge to slip into those competitive team drills throughout OTAs and minicamp.
But he also knows the Panthers need him to be 100 percent for the start of training camp, hence his current restrictions.
"It's been good, just a different perspective," said Kuechly, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery. "It gives me an opportunity to sit back and watch and help some of the younger guys in a different capacity than I'm usually able to. It's been fun helping Jeremy (Cash) and both Jareds (Barber and Norris) get better. All those guys are progressing the right way, and for me, it's just another way to look at it."
Since Kuechly is being held out of team drills, he's been able to serve as another coach of sorts for the rookie linebackers. In between plays, the perennial All-Pro is offering valuable advice.
And with the Panthers taking a cautious approach with veteran Thomas Davis, guys like A.J. Klein and Shaq Thompson are taking advantage of the additional first-team reps.
"A.J. is a stud, and I think everyone knows that. He's as good as it gets," Kuechly said. "He can play all three spots, he can do everything you need him to do. We're lucky to have a guy like him.
"And Shaq, he's a great athlete. He learns and he works hard. He's fit in perfectly. He's going to be good this year."
With the offseason program nearly complete, Kuechly feels good about the direction the team is heading. They've wiped the slate clean after a memorable 2015 season and are prepared to earn their way back to the top.
"Last year was last year. We don't get anything, we have to go get it," Kuechly said. "That's always been our mindset, and we have to hold that mindset again this season."