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Notebook: Bryce Young, CJ Stroud comparisons will last for years

C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young

CHARLOTTE — The comparisons started years ago when they were middle school-aged basketball opponents in Southern California. 

And their proximity will only bring them to the fore this week, with No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young and the Panthers playing No. 2 overall pick CJ Stroud and the Texans.

Stroud has obviously had the better time of it so far, with nine touchdowns, just one interception, 1,660 passing yards, a 96.4 rating, and three wins. 

Young has six touchdowns, four interceptions, 967 yards, a 78.7 rating, and is still waiting for his first win. 

And while this week will bring plenty of comparisons of their relative games, Panthers head coach Frank Reich said there's no second thoughts about the team's decision since it's so early in their respective careers.

"Yeah, I mean, we got the guy we wanted to get and couldn't be happier about that in every way," Reich said. "And I would say this: I'm happy for CJ. He's had six good games, and I have no doubt he'll have many more good games. But I know this: when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks or any position, it's years, not weeks. You can't put a label on a guy after six weeks or even a year. I've seen guys have Pro Bowl seasons and then a year later, fighting to be a backup somewhere else. I mean, it's a crazy league. 

"What you're looking for and what we're looking for, not just from our quarterback, but in every position, is sustained success at a high level for a very long time. And you can't measure it in weeks on that."

That won't stop the tales of the tape this week, and everyone involved in the process acknowledges that part. And for Young, his longtime friendship with Stroud makes this week the one time he's not pulling for his longtime peer.

"I try to be, just internally motivated and draw from that and try to run my own race and try to be the best version I can and focus on the stuff that I can control and stuff that I can improve on," Young said. "And, you know, there's never going to be a time that I'm not rooting for CJ, I guess outside of, I guess, obviously this weekend will be the exception.

"I don't want to speak for CJ, but I think the same way; we just both want what's best for each other. We both want each other to be successful."

— Young clearly knew what was coming when he stepped to the lectern, and he chose his words carefully throughout. But he really opened up when he talked about their shared history as basketball players from the time they were in middle school. Even after their AAU days as competitors, they were able to get games in while working out together in the pre-draft process. 

Young said if he had to compare their respective games to current NBA players, he'd go with Cavaliers guard Darius Garland for himself and Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. for Stroud. (Garland is 6-1, 192, Porter is 6-10, 2018)

"Like, he can hit contested shots," Young said with a nod, getting into the line of questioning. 

"See, y'all start asking me basketball questions; that's when I start getting excited."

Michael Porter Jr., Darius Garland

— The Panthers had a couple of starters back on the field in increased capacities Wednesday, with safety Xavier Woods and guard Austin Corbett back in action. Corbett was activated Tuesday, and Woods has missed the last three games.

But Reich said while the progress of cornerback Jaycee Horn has been good from his hamstring strain suffered in the opener.

"So it's gonna be a minute or two for Jaycee," Reich said. "But he's doing great and has had zero setbacks. Can't wait to get him back out there."

— The Panthers brought a couple of familiar faces to the practice squad Wednesday, signing quarterback Jake Luton and tight end Jordan Matthews.

Luton was here in camp and was active as the backup in Week 3. Matthews, the former Eagles wide receiver, was here as a tryout player in minicamp.

The Panthers are running short at tight end, with Ian Thomas and Giovanni Ricci on injured reserve.

The Panthers also lost practice squad cornerback Robert Rochell, who was signed by the Packers to their 53-man roster.

— Reich said he got a good vibe from his team in the first practice since the bye. They were in pads, and the energy might have been fine, but he knows fixing an 0-6 start won't happen based on one good day of work or one week.

"I feel like we had a lot of energy in the building today," he said. "I thought the guys came back with the right attitude. I think everybody's excited. I mean, it's, 0-0 and 1-0; it truly is. I mean, we've got 11 games left. Like every team, our goal is to win every one of them, but you can't do that all at one time. You've got to win them one at a time. So we have to shrink things down to a day-to-day and a week-to-week formula. It's always what you do anyway.

"But when you come off a bye when you're in the position that you're in, I just think it really helps you focus even that much more on those type of on that type of attitude."

The Carolina Panthers were pleased to host their 19th annual Challenger Flag Football League Jamboree in partnership with Eleven Sports Media at the Atrium Health Dome on Sunday, October 15.The team thanks this year's program partners: City of High Point Parks & Recreation, City of Rock Hill Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Durham Parks & Recreation, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Greenville Recreation and Parks, Kernersville Recreation and Parks Department, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, Richland County Recreation Commission, The City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

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