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Practice Observations: Thomas Brown on calling plays

Thomas Brown

CHARLOTTE – Frank Reich went into the offseason program unsure of how much of the play-calling duties he'd hand off to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown.

But after the trust they built, Reich and Brown went 50-50 in Saturday's preseason game against the Jets, with Reich calling the first half and Brown taking the second.

Reich previously made all the play-calling moves while he led the Colts, and Brown's a first-time NFL coordinator.

But after crafting and installing an offense together, the move made sense, and gave Brown an opportunity every young coach craves as they develop in their field.

"I will say this about Frank, man, it's been phenomenal to be around him from day one," Brown said in a press conference Tuesday. "Every day, we continue to grow closer together, continue to have great communication, and continue to be on the same page as far as the overall goals."

Brown said calling plays is a chance to show your personality in a different way than when you're coaching. 

"It's the same system for sure, the same plays on the call sheet," Brown said. "When you actually activate them, it's sometimes more personality-driven. I think being able to have that opportunity, that experience, is great for my development, but also so (Reich and I) can be on the same page as well." 

Of course, Saturday's game didn't produce points for the offense, and that's something they've evaluated with coaches and players. 

But at the same time, Brown hasn't gone into panic over a preseason game.

"The score always matters; I mean, we're in a results-driven business," Brown said. "But during this time of year, it's definitely more about the evaluation process, and trying to find the best guys (that) will end up making this roster down the road." 

After Reich called Saturday's play-calling "generic" and fielded a litany of questions about a "vanilla" offense Monday, Brown pushed back on how much opening the playbook in the preseason truly mattered. 

"I think, based on what we did from a practice standpoint, it doesn't matter whether we're vanilla or not vanilla," Brown said. "This is about overall execution. We didn't get that done, which is frustrating for us as players and coaches, but (I'm) definitely not concerned one bit."

– As the Panthers seek solutions at right guard while Austin Corbett recovers, they had two players return for their first work in full pads since returning from training camp.

Fourth-round draft pick Chandler Zavala and undrafted free agent rookie Nash Jensen got reps in full pads after returning to the practice field Monday.

Zavala participated in offensive line vs. defensive line drills with the first-teamers for the bulk of a period, lining up between starting center Bradley Bozeman and right tackle Taylor Moton.

Cade Mays wasn't among the group at practice Tuesday. The versatile second-year lineman started Saturday's preseason game against the Jets at right guard. There were no injury updates since Reich didn't meet with reporters.

Running back Miles Sanders (groin) and kicker Eddy Piñeiro (groin) worked out on the side, along with a not-insignificant group including Marquis Haynes Sr., Henry Anderson, Stephen Sullivan, Cameron Erving, and others.

– Corbett declined to comment on whether or not he expected to start the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which would count him out of at least the first four games of the year.

Corbett continues to recover from an ACL injury sustained in last season's finale.

"I'll leave that to the people upstairs," Corbett said. "I'll just do what they tell me and hope to get out there sooner than later."

– Wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. didn't practice after he was carted away early Monday with a back injury. 

– Quarterback Andy Dalton was absent Tuesday with "back tightness," Brown said, so they gave him the day to rest up. 

It left time to split reps between Bryce Young, Matt Corral, and Jake Luton. 

Dalton, a 12-year NFL veteran, didn't play in the first preseason game, though he wasn't expected to as coaches looked to get early looks at Young and more work for Corral. 

– Luton has taken more snaps this week, and he continued to do so Tuesday, with Dalton out and a little less Corral while he recuperates from a heavier workload in the first preseason game. 

Luton made some throws, including a nicely placed ball to fellow veteran training camp addition Javon Wims, who played 65 percent of the offensive snaps in Saturday's preseason game.

Jake Luton

– Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. gave his official ruling on whether he'd play in the freezing cold or the scorching heat.

And after experiences playing in Jacksonville, going to training camp Spartanburg, and coming here last year with Detroit to play in the coldest game ever in Bank of America Stadium, the Louisiana native had a quick answer.

He prefers extreme heat – by a long shot.

"I can condition myself for the sweat and the fatigue; it's hard to condition myself for numb fingers," Chark said. "You know, I can't feel my hands. I can't feel my toes. And I'm from the South, so I've been in the heat, sweating, and running in shoes all squishy my whole life."

– Like Monday, a return to Charlotte from Spartanburg training camp didn't mean the Panthers escaped the heat, as it was another hot practice at the Atrium Health Dome.

A couple of tempers flared up between the offense and defense, though nothing escalated far on the practice field.

Running back Chuba Hubbard and safety Jeremy Chinn chirped at each other during a team period, and Raheem Blackshear lowered his shoulder toward the end of a long run, which knocked rookie safety Jammie Robinson to the ground.

Jaycee Horn nearly intercepted Young during a team period, getting in front of Chark after a pass along the sideline.

The ball popped off Horn's hands, and he was audibly displeased after the drop.

– The Panthers hosted another special visitor, as Bill Davis, the original outside linebackers coach on Dom Capers' original staff from 1995-98, viewed practice.

He also took in some moments with his former coworker in a familiar space.

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