CHARLOTTE — Panthers quarterback Bryce Young probably watches more basketball than he's played lately, but he laughed when asked about some recent improvisational plays he's made with his feet.
Asked about some of his recent scrambles, including a few that included some hardwood head fakes, he laughed.
"I'd like to think there's some carryover that helps me justify playing basketball when I can," Young said Wednesday. "But yeah, I think there's some carryover."
Young has had some effective runs lately, picking up the first down he punctuated with a bit of Cam-esque flair Sunday. Last week against the Saints, he had three carries for 40 yards, including a 21-yard scamper and another run where he juked linebacker Demario Davis off his feet.
"Hopefully," Young said with a grin when asked if he might have more such plays up his sleeve. "Just trying to have fun out there, and sometimes just some emotion comes out."
He's never going to be a significant threat to run often for the obvious reasons, but he said he's gradually becoming more comfortable getting down at the ends of runs without putting himself in additional peril.
"I'd like to hope so," he said when asked if his slides were improving. "I don't think it's a whole lot better. I feel like I've taken some baby steps; definitely better than college, but I wouldn't put myself as a star student yet. We're growing, a work in progress."
As far as watching basketball, he took a break Tuesday night to attend the Jumpman Classic at the Spectrum Center and was impressed with Michigan guard Dug McDaniel, who had 33 points in the double-overtime loss to Florida.
"I didn't know his name, but he was nice," Young said. "I kind of ended up rooting for Michigan because of that. He was cold, he was super-nice."
— Speaking of cold, interim head coach Chris Tabor doesn't have to spend as much time worrying about the weather as he did last week.
Asked Wednesday if he had seen the Sunday forecast, he immediately fired back: "63, partly cloudy, light winds, light and variable."
The other kind of cold was more of a concern, as the seasonal illness that has rolled through the locker room had five players on the injury report Wednesday and others dealing with symptoms.
Tabor said they're taking a lot of common sense precautions and trying to keep sick guys away from others, but at the rate it's passed through the group, he knows there's only so much he can do. Last week, the defensive back room was hit pretty hard, and this week, it appears the linebackers are next since Brian Burns and Marquis Haynes Sr. were held out of practice Wednesday.
"Yeah, I know it hit a little bit there," Tabor said. "And selfishly kind of, it's better that it's the beginning of the week because it kind of seems like it's taken a couple of days for everybody. So I think, I think we'll end up being fine there, but still same precautions that we talked a little bit about, you know, some social distancing, some wash your hands, cover up, if you want a mask, mask, we're doing all that."
Of course, coaches like to plan for everything and will invoke a next-man-up mentality whenever they can, but Tabor's also aware there's no control over this one. Last week, backup tackle David Sharpe was a late scratch on Sunday when he turned up ill, so they're used to making last-minute adjustments.
"Well, it just happens when you get here to the stadium," he said. "Because a guy might look healthy the night before in meetings and then show up to the stadium and he doesn't feel real well and then you have to diagnose; can he go, and how bad is it and, and those type of things and then we'll always do what's best for the player."
— Locker rooms are notoriously tough rooms for anyone wanting praise.
So Tabor was very matter-of-fact when asked about kicker Eddy Piñeiro winning the NFC special teams player of the week for his walk-off winner against the Falcons, saying they mentioned it in the team meeting and kept it moving.
"No, we just posted it, and that was about it," he said with a shrug. "You know, now go out and work and make your kicks and go through the Wednesday deal. We didn't do anything special. You're only as good as your next kick. So we'll stay with those parameters.
"It's just how it is. I mean, I remember last year when he missed Atlanta; we kept talking about the Atlanta game after he had made so many kicks. So that's why I wanted to just emphasize you're only as good as your next kick."
— Tabor's ability to deadpan any situation was also on display when he was asked about the team not scoring any first-half touchdowns in the last seven games and what he might change to correct that.
"We're gonna get that ball across the goal line," he replied.
You can't argue with logic like that.
View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday.