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Rookie Diaries: How Derrick Brown is learning through the virtual offseason program


With the Panthers offseason program going virtual, rookies have had to learn a new system virtually. But by all accounts from the coaching staff, the 2020 class has been attentive while soaking in Xs and Os from their homes.

In a recent interview, first-round defensive tackle Derrick Brown said that he's started to settle in as an NFL player, even if everything he's learned so far has been through a computer screen.

"Just trying to get the playbook down, learning more and more every day has been good," Brown said. "I'm ready to get into the actual meeting rooms rather than the virtual setting. But other than that, everything's been good."

Even though it's unconventional, Brown believes he's gained a lot from the video sessions. That includes an understanding of his new defensive coordinator. 

"Just being able to learn the system coach (Phil) Snow's trying to put in and just comprehend all that stuff," Brown said, "I think it's very beneficial to get it all in now and be able to take those notes, and keep studying every day and start to learn all this stuff beforehand before I have to go out and start executing on the field."

That process began with the Panthers' virtual rookie minicamp, which was held a week after the draft. Having three days full of learning, not only about the playbook but also about the structure of the organization, was a helpful start. 

"That was very beneficial to me, and hopefully everybody else as well," Brown said. "I was able to get it so when they put us with in the meetings with the vets, we were actually right there with them." 

In this unique offseason, Panthers veterans and rookies are in similar situations in that all players are learning a new playbook from a new coaching staff. Brown can sense that, and it gives all players collective ownership. 

"Those guys are trying to learn just like we are," Brown said. "(Defensive line) Coach (Mike) Phair and (assistant defensive line) Coach Frank (Okam), they've just been trying to give it to us every day a little bit at a time and trying to get us to be able to comprehend everything."

And as a group of seven defensive players, the Panthers' draftees are doing their best to help each other. 

"We haven't really had a chance to get together in person at all with each other yet, but it's been cool," Brown said. "We've just been kind of trying to figure all this stuff out together."

View photos of Carolina's first-round pick, Derrick Brown, out of Auburn.

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