SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Panthers running back Tauren Poole knows patience will serve him well as he continues to develop in his second NFL season.
"I am a lot more patient," Poole said. "You learn in your second year to trust it more. You know what's going to be there, you know the O-line is working hard up front. This year, I definitely learned to trust it more, learned to work with what I've got and do the best that I can with what I have."
Poole, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tennessee in 2012, spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a rib injury suffered in the preseason.
That injury and the crowded Panthers backfield have required Poole to exhibit patience, and he's remained persistent in his efforts.
"I think I am doing a great job," Poole said. "I've got to continue taking strides, working with the opportunity that I'm given. We've got a lot backs here. I have to make the most of my opportunities and, hopefully, see the field a lot more."
Poole carried nine times for 23 yards in the preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, tying him for the team-lead in carries with rookie Kenjon Barner.
"They gave me the rock, and I was excited about it," Poole said. "I'm always excited when I get the ball in my hands. But you know, most of the game is played without the ball in your hands. (The coaches) look at that more than anything – pass protection and stuff like that."
Poole's more than willing to prove his worth as a pass protector, but like any running back, he is looking forward to receiving his next handoff.
"I'm preparing for however many carries they want to give me, whether it be one, whether it be two, whether it be 20. I'll be excited about whatever and I'll definitely do my best on every carry that I get," Poole said, looking ahead to Thursday night's game at Philadelphia.
"I'm just going to continue to try to separate myself from the other guys. The competition is real in the backfield, but I love every minute of it."
BARNER'S INSIDE LOOK: Running back Kenjon Barner knows Chip Kelly and his offensive philosophy about as well as anyone after playing for the first-year Eagles head coach at Oregon.
Barner said Panthers coaches have asked him to share some of that knowledge in the days leading up to Thursday's contest.
"It's intense," Barner said of Kelly's up-tempo attack. "That's something that he's taken the time to perfect and gotten teams to perfect. When we were back in Oregon, it took us nearly two years to get it to run how he wanted it to run."
But Barner and the Panthers are more concerned about themselves at this point in the preseason, and the rookie is focused on better protecting the football after losing a fumble against the Bears.
"Besides the little blemishes that I had in the game, I was extremely happy with how I performed," Barner said. "I just have to be mindful of that ball.
"You can't get too relaxed when you are carrying that ball, because you don't know where a (defender) is coming from."
CAPTAIN STEERS NORMAN: As a player who has helped cornerback Josh Norman early in his NFL career, fellow-cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was thrilled to see him come away with two interceptions in the preseason opener.
"Josh's performance was excellent," Munnerlyn said. "When the plays came to him, he made it. That's what you have to do – once you get a chance to get your hands on some footballs make the plays. Hopefully, Josh can keep it up."
Munnerlyn has been a bit of a mentor for Norman – even if it took the apprentice a little while to fully understand the wisdom Munnerlyn was trying to impart.
"When Josh came in as a rookie, I used to tell him things to do, not to do. I was like 'Man, Josh you are so hard-headed,'" Munnerlyn said. "But now he realizes that I'm not telling him wrong. I've been around the game for a while. I think half of that has been because he's older than me. I always joke with him about that. But now Josh is understanding the game. He's understanding route concepts and what to do."