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Carolina Panthers

Robbie Anderson wants to put last year behind him

Robbie Anderson

CHARLOTTE — Panthers wide receiver Robbie Anderson walked in this year with a new number, an adjusted spelling of his name, and a new focus.

Perhaps most importantly, there's a new offense in place that should help him become a better version of himself than we saw last year.

Anderson's generally a man of few words, and when asked about a new approach after a disappointing 2021 season, said: "I could show you better than I could tell you."

Putting last year behind him is a reasonable goal. After he set personal bests with 95 catches for 1,096 yards his first season here, he caught 53 passes for 519 yards last season.

Granted, the context of last year's offense (with three different starting quarterbacks and a midseason coordinator change) didn't create the opportunity for many highlights for anyone, the difference in Anderson was stark.

But head coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday it was a "confluence of events" which led to last year's dip, and that the system being put in place by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo could offer a chance for a quick turnaround for Anderson as well as wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.

"I think that if Robbie has the great training camp he's capable of, I really believe this offense is perfect for him," Rhule said. "I think he'll have a ton of production; I think Terrace will have a ton of production.

"One of the things in hiring Ben, one of the things for me that was really important was I don't want to just utilize one or two players."

Getting more production would be fine with Anderson, who struggled with dropped passes last year as well, though he's hoping he can leave all that behind him.

"I don't look back. I just look back on what I can improve and control and keep it simple," Anderson said. "Everything that I can control. Myself and what I do and make the most of my opportunities, and work, elevate, and grow."

His new jersey number's symbolic of the change he hopes to create, though it was also the number he wore in high school.

"And it represents new beginnings, and that's how I feel in a lot of aspects of my life," Anderson said. "A lot of growth, elevation. And it's saucy; it looked better than 11."

Anderson didn't shed much light on a recent tweeted-and-deleted message on social media that said he was considering retirement, but said it was more of a reflection of "personal things" than a workplace decision.

"I was just thinking out loud, you know," he said. "Just thinking out loud. But I wasn't that serious, for real. I was just thinking about a few things, not too serious though."

Wednesday was the hottest practice of the offseason, which made Zane Gonzalez a bit of a hero.

Rhule offered the team a chance to knock a few periods off the end of practice if the veteran kicker could convert a 56-yard field goal.

Gonzalez, who hit 17 straight field goals before his season-ending injury in Buffalo last year, nailed it.

Before the kick, he sprinted from the 50-yard line and back to get his heart rate up to simulate game conditions. Then he coolly got the ball across the crossbar, leading to a moment of what can fairly be described as joy among players.

"That was a heck of a kick by Zane. It was pretty hot today," Rhule said with a laugh.

— The Panthers will have one more minicamp practice tomorrow before they break for the offseason. Veteran players including Christian McCaffrey, Shaq Thompson, and others will likely remain in the semi-coaching role they've held this week, giving younger players and backups more reps.

View photos from Wednesday's second minicamp practice at the Atrium Health practice fields.

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