Practice squad members embracing their roles

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CHARLOTTE - If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.

It's a mentality that can be hard to accept, especially if it's presented as a Plan B when Plan A doesn't work out.

On September 1, the Panthers solidified their 53-man depth chart and, a day later, announced their 10-man practice roster. Although these players didn't fulfill their dream of making the main team, being named to the practice squad is far from being considered a nightmare.

As two of the four rookies that remain with the organization as practice players, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton and quarterback Kyle Allen both understand that the designation is far from a demotion as it gives them another chance to showcase their skills.

Allen, an undrafted rookie from the University of Houston, served as third option behind Cam Newton throughout training camp and the preseason. It's hard to make an impact from that position, but the only way to do so is by seizing the moment, something Allen acknowledged.

"[Opportunities are] so few and far between, so I was happy to take advantage enough to get a spot on this team," he said.

Unlike Allen, Norton carried the title of "2018 NFL Draft pick" into training camp after being selected in the seventh round out of the University of Miami. Norton's solid offseason got him to where he is now, and he plans on making the most of his newfound opportunity.

Norton intends to "use this time to get better and work on my craft and become a better ball player." With established veterans to guide him, there's no reason to believe he can't.

In fact, both Norton and Allen have had the privilege of learning from players who have several years of experience at this level. Norton credits Kyle Love, Kawann Short and first-year Panther Dontari Poe with helping him since entering the league.

"I'm very happy to be here. I love being around this great group of vets," he said. "You know, we got a great room with a lot of older guys. It's a good learning experience for me."

Allen, in addition to bonding with both Newton and backup Taylor Heinicke - who have a combined 11 years of NFL experience - mentioned how valuable it has been to learn from offensive coordinator Norv Turner and his son Scott, the quarterbacks coach.

"Both Scott and Norv come from a great family of football and great knowledge, and they've instilled a lot in me," Allen said.

"What works, works; that's what (Norv Turner) always says and so it's been good to learn and to really understand it. I'm still understanding it and still learning it and trying to get it down. so it's a blessing to be in this offense to start."

How things play out from here is still unknown, but when asked about his mentality moving forward, Norton provided a blueprint that he, Allen and all of the practice team can follow.

"Be ready so when I do get my chance, I can make the best of it and go out there and show my talent."

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