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Notebook: Frank Reich to resume play-calling on offense

Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE — Panthers head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that he was taking over play-calling duties again starting this week after offensive coordinator Thomas Brown did it for the last three games.

Reich said it will still be a "collaborative" effort with Brown and not a reflection on the job he did (the Panthers won their one game with Brown calling plays against the Texans).

"This is not about Thomas, this is about me, it's about the team," Reich said to open his press conference Wednesday. "I'm in this position because of years of being a successful offensive coordinator and play caller. We have eight games left, and I just want to give my attention, and everything I can do and everything I can bring to bear to help the offense take a next step. . . .

"So, I trust Thomas more than anybody. And he's helped me become a better coach and a better man. So this isn't about that. This is about the team. This is about us all playing the role that we think can help us these last eight games."

Reich said he did not consider handing off play-calling to either senior assistant Jim Caldwell or passing game coordinator Parks Frazier.

Reich said Brown would continue to run the installation meetings and game-planning but that he felt like, with his experience in the league, it was the move the team needed at this point. He also said he didn't think it should reflect negatively on Brown since he was put into a difficult situation by taking over an 0-6 team that wasn't performing at a high level at the time.

"This should have zero impact on Thomas's career arc," Reich said. "First of all, anybody who knows Thomas knows he's brilliant and that he's a great leader, alpha male, fast on his feet. And so this is a three-game sample size on a team on a team and an offense that's been struggling. You know, what, what was he supposed to do? I mean, was it supposed to be magic his first time calling in three games? So this will have little or no impact on Thomas's long-term trajectory. He's too good of a coach, person, the whole deal."

Mostly, for a team that's struggling with the ball, Reich said it was about trading on his experience in the position in hopes of making progress.

"I guess the way I look at it, in this league, it's a game of inches, it's a game of small increments. If you can find ways to get 1 percent better here, 1 percent better there," Reich said. "And with my experience, I just wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't bring every ounce of that to bear on these last eight games. That's how I feel."

— Rookie quarterback Bryce Young said the change should not have a negative impact on his preparation for the Cowboys this week.

"It doesn't hinder me," he said. "Doesn't affect my ability at all. Again, it's the same system. It's not as big of a (deal), it's just you hear a different voice, but you're calling the same plays. Throughout, coach Reich and TB, both have had a big hand in molding the game plan, molding the offense and it's a combination of stuff and then bringing things together and it's still that.

"So, you know, it's not like we're going to completely different plays and completely different terminology. It's the same stuff. And you know, every week, you turn the page, and you have a new game plan, and you got different things up, and you got new things, and you got stuff from the past and whatever it may be. And that's an every week thing, and it's no different."

— Reich said it was still very "day-by-day" on the status of cornerback Jaycee Horn, who practiced Wednesday for the first time since a serious hamstring injury in the opener against Atlanta.

He wanted to wait to see how Horn responded to his workload (he was limited in practice Wednesday before making a declaration.

He was more optimistic about the chances of tight end Ian Thomas, who, like Horn, was designated to return from IR on Monday.

— Reich said that Chandler Zavala would replace Calvin Throckmorton in the starting lineup at left guard this week after Throckmorton was waived Tuesday.

The fourth-round rookie opened the year as the starting right guard (when Austin Corbett was still on the mend), moved to left guard the following week, and started the next four games. He left the Detroit game with a neck injury and has recovered fully, but hasn't played on offense since.

— He's not on the injury report since he's still on the practice squad, but there was another notable return to the practice field Wednesday.

Veteran defensive end Chris Wormley was in full pads for the first time since joining the Panthers.

He was signed to the practice squad earlier this year but has been with the rehab group as he comes back from a torn ACL suffered late last season.

The 30-year-old Wormley has played in 80 games with 31 career starts in six seasons with the Ravens and Steelers. A prototypical 3-4 end, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Wormley could potentially add some depth and size up front for a defense that could use the reinforcements.

Wormley has 11.0 career sacks, but 7.0 of them came in 2021 for the Steelers.

— Speaking of the practice squad, tight end Jordan Matthews was signed to the practice squad again on Wednesday.

He was on the 53-man roster for the Bears game but was released earlier this week. The veteran and former wide receiver played in his first game since 2021 last week after recovering from a training camp knee injury last season.

View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday as they prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys.

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