CHARLOTTE — Panthers head coach Frank Reich talked about the need to "simplify" things on Wednesday — and he meant it so much he said the word three times in a row at one point — and part of that process involves quarterback Bryce Young and the way they get plays in and out of the huddle.
Since Young missed the Seattle game, they've had him wearing a wristband with the play calls on it, for easy reference and to streamline the amount of time it takes to call a play.
"I just think the operation, it's gotten better," Reich said. "I think it'll continue to get better, understanding the procedural part with the players with Bryce and how we communicate to the receivers what personnel group we are in and stuff like that. I think that's getting better."
Of course, calling it a wristband isn't exactly right since Young doesn't wear it on his wrist. He loops his around his belt for comfort's sake. Veteran backup Andy Dalton wears his on his left arm, and asked if there was any reason for the distinction, shrugged and said "personal preference."
Young wore a wristband a few times this offseason, specifically in rookie minicamp and a few other scattered days during OTAs. That was also at a time when they were installing everything, so having the reference there was helpful. They've also continued to modify the language, including shortening some calls, and Reich said having the inventory in front of him was helpful.
"I mean if you say just pure math, it has to be faster if I don't have to give the whole play call, if I can just say, hey, run number 37," Reich said. "You know, there's something to that now. I've called a lot of players for a lot of quarterbacks that don't want to wear a wristband.
"I understand the other side of it. But the fact of the matter is these days, in most offenses, if you want to move guys around in personnel and shift in motion, you can't do that without using language and words that make the play call lengthy. So in those instances, you tend to use the wristband."
Reich said the wristband includes runs and passes, so there's not an obvious tell for the opponent. And Young's used to having reference points; in college, everything was signaled in from the sideline, so he downplayed the importance of it.
"Everyone has to make that adjustment (at the NFL level); we all go through that," Young said. "And I'm continuing to grow. I feel like I've grown and gotten better and need to continue to grow and get better. But, it's a change, and I feel a lot more comfortable now, and that's thanks to the coaching, the coaches and the coaching staff and the people around me, just helping me to grow on that."
Asked if it gave him a greater level of comfort, Young said the key was executing the plays.
"Whichever way for me is just how efficient we can be in executing," he said. "And, I trust the coaches in whatever way it's been just like that."
— While Wednesday's injury report was a longer one, with five players out and six more limited, Reich said things were trending in the right direction on a few players.
Specifically, he indicated that cornerback Jaycee Horn and safety Xavier Woods were "making very good progress." Horn's eligible to come off injured reserve, while Woods wasn't placed on IR since, with the bye week, there was a chance to limit the number of games he'd miss.
"I don't want to put a timetable on them, but I'm really encouraged with Jaycee's progress and Xavier. I would say they're both ahead of schedule, and encouraged by that."
Reich was less optimistic about outside linebacker Marquis Haynes Sr., saying, "it's probably going to be another minute." He left early in camp with a back issue, and has been out since.
— Reich spent a significant portion of his presser lavishing praise on the Dolphins and their coaches. They rank first in the league in every significant category (total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, and points), and have an aggressive defense led by coordinator Vic Fangio that's third in the league in sacks and is built to limit explosive plays (a category the Panthers have struggled in any way).
"Listen, we respect this team a lot," Reich said. "But this is really about us, right? This is about us. So we're just focused in and dialed in on how do we get better and go play our best game this week?"
View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday.