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Notebook: Thomas Brown preps offense to "handle the noise"

Thomas Brown

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers will end up dealing with noise all week.

It's more than just the pumped-in crowd noise at practice as they prepare for a matchup against the Seahawks at the iconically raucous Lumen Field.

Outside commotion has grown since rookie starting quarterback Bryce Young missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury. Young didn't practice Thursday either, positioning veteran Andy Dalton as a potential starter in Seattle. 

Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown walked into his weekly press conference Thursday with plenty to say about the week that was and the week that is, opening with a strong statement on preparation – and how noise is being accounted for in more ways than one.

"One of the keys for success for us as a team, but also offensively, is going to be (to) handle the noise," Brown said. "For us, that means two reasons, right? One (is) being on the field when it comes to our communication, our operation, from a nonverbal standpoint with the noise when we can't hear. But also the noise outside the building. …

"Just being able to be focused, continue to stay on the same path, be committed to our process and our approach. Excited for a new opportunity."

Brown said everyone healthy gets reps throughout a week of preparation, clarifying that when asked if practice squad quarterback Jake Luton would receive work in practice.

Luton, Young, and Dalton are the only quarterbacks on either the active roster or practice squad, and with Young unavailable, it makes sense that Luton would get some looks.

"Everybody on our roster gets reps, whether it be look squad reps, whether it be actually with the offense or defense," Brown said. "We're all in the same meetings, all getting coached the same way. And you're obviously one play away, across the board, everybody. So you're expected to be ready to go."

The offense hasn't had the brightest start with Young under center, struggling to stretch the field in the passing game or consistently score points early.

From a messaging standpoint, Brown is keeping the offense focused on moving forward. After all, there's no other direction to go in, and they have 15 games left to play, even if they started the season 0-2.

Brown said head coach Frank Reich has had the Panthers identify with being "warriors" since early installation in OTAs, and they're leaning on that this week.

The offense has to press forward with the quarterback they have available Sunday, and they have to press on to make improvements.

"Warriors mean a lot of different things; here's what it doesn't mean – it doesn't mean when things get tough, you've got to run and hide," Brown said. "We're not going to do that. Not going to make excuses. Warriors do a really good job of banding together when things get tough. And we're in an environment where we're asked to be leaders, to be held accountable, hold ourselves accountable first."

– Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is in a challenging spot, having to replace veteran linebacker and team leader Shaq Thompson, who is out for the rest of the season after sustaining a fractured fibula in the New Orleans game Monday.

Evero said he liked what he saw out of his defense, which played to a 20-17 loss but kept the contest competitive for a chunk of the matchup despite offensive struggles.

He was especially encouraged by what he saw from the group after Thompson's departure.

"When Shaq went down, unfortunately, there, we're always making changes and adapting as the game goes, and that's what we did," Evero said. "The other guys, they stepped up. So I was really proud of what they did. We've still got to be better; we've still got a long way to go. But it was a step in the right direction.

– Linebacker Frankie Luvu took steps forward at linebacker, and Kamu Grugier-Hill performed well in Thompson's spot after the injury, coming down with a highlight-worthy sack against Derek Carr in the second half.

Evero said they're still working through what the rotation will look like at Thompson's spot in the interior, as they were impressed by Grugier-Hill but also like what they see from veteran Deion Jones ("Deebo," as Evero calls him) who was signed back to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Wednesday.

"We're still trying to work through all of those different things," Evero said. "We felt really good about how Kamu played in the game. Deebo's, obviously, he's going to be up now. He's going to provide some depth, and we're working throughout all this rotational thing. Chandler Wooten is in play. So we're kind of considering everybody."

– Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor previewed the Seattle matchup from his point of view, acknowledging the noise and talent levels expected in a game against the Seahawks.

"It's loud," Tabor said. "Everybody has to be on point. I mean, it's a fun place to play. It really is. It's one of (the most fun) places to go to. But you've got to make sure that we're all tight on the sideline and everyone has the call. Because if somebody in our area doesn't have the call, and they think something else, the movie could go bad. And we don't get any redos."

Tabor specifically commented on Seattle return man DeeJay Dallas, calling him "explosive" and a "strong downhill runner," and complimented the Seahawks' athleticism on special teams.

"Seattle has always had just great athletes," Tabor said. "And when you turn the tape on, it speaks to you. We'll have our hands full, and we will be challenged. And I'm excited to see where our guys are at – to see how they play and those types of things. Should be fun."

Jake Luton

— Luton said he feels pretty good about being able to contribute this week if needed since he's so familiar with this place.

At least now that he's had a night's sleep.

Luton arrived here Wednesday morning after a red-eye flight from his Phoenix home and got acquainted, again, with his new teammates.

"Yeah, it's a long day for a long day," he said of the flight leading straight into meetings and practice.

He was here throughout training camp, so he knows the terminology and his teammates.

He's also had plenty of practice making changes. Since being drafted in the sixth round by the Jaguars in 2020, he's spent time with the Seahawks, Dolphins, Jaguars again, the Saints, and now here. He also played at three different colleges (Idaho, Ventura College, Oregon State), so he knows the process.

"I mean, I think I'll be just fine," Luton said. "A lot of different teams, had a lot of different offensive coordinators and stuff, picking stuff up quick, this isn't a new drill for me. So, I think I'll be just fine. I mean, it's only been a few weeks since I left.

"I was excited, you know, when I got the call to be able to come back to a place I was comfortable with."

Take a look at the best pictures from pregame, in-game, and postgame action from Monday's home opener against the Saints.

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