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Carolina Panthers

Takeaways from Robby Anderson's virtual press conference

Decked out in a No. 22 Christian McCaffrey jersey and a Panthers cap, new wide receiver Robby Anderson made it clear from his South Florida home on Friday that he's ready to get started in Carolina.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping Anderson out of Charlotte for the foreseeable future, it hasn't stopped him from beginning to connect with new teammates or reconnecting with former teammates and coaches he'll reunite with in Carolina.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Anderson's virtual introductory press conference:

Reuniting with Rhule

Anderson and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule have a long history that dates back to their time at Temple. Without Rhule, Anderson believes he wouldn't have made it to the NFL.

After his first season with the Owls, Anderson was ruled academically ineligible for the 2014 season and was forced to leave the university. For the next year, Rhule went to bat Anderson, helping him find his way back into school and onto the field.

"He stood on the table for me numerous times, and stood on the table with the university to get me back into school to open up that door for me to right my wrongs and get to be in the position that I'm in today," Anderson said.

And that history was a big reason Anderson signed up to reunite with Rhule.

"I know winning is in his blood,'' Anderson said. "I know that's what he's here to do. There wasn't much that he really had to sell me on.

"It was in the back of my mind when I saw that he was hitting the market to become a head coach. I already knew I would want to go there, and then when I saw that (quarterback) Teddy (Bridgewater) signed there, I just felt like it was the icing on the cake. It really attracted me to want to be a Panther."

South Florida connection

Speaking of Bridgewater, back in high school, Anderson and Carolina's new quarterback were supposed to play on the same 7-on-7 team. Things changed, though, and the two became opponents instead. Then, for a brief window in 2018, the South Florida natives teamed up in New York, before the Jets traded Bridgewater to New Orleans just ahead of the regular season. 

So now that they're both in Carolina, the duo will finally get the chance to see what they're capable of together.

"We had a strong connection," Anderson said. "Teddy helped me grow as a man. There were things I was kind of going through at the time with still adjusting to the NFL. He kind of helped me see things from an older perspective even though we are the same age."

While the two never formally knew each other during their high school days, Anderson said he knew all about Bridgewater. That familiarity, and their Florida backgrounds, made it easier to bond during their brief time together in New York.

"It's easy for me to talk to him because we come from the same culture and similar backgrounds," Anderson said. "It's easy for me to talk football with him. He understands how to get a receiver in rhythm, and we have a natural friendship, a natural chemistry on the field."

Another familiar face

Bridgewater isn't the only quarterback Anderson will be reuniting with in Carolina. He caught quite a few touchdowns from P.J. Walker while they were both at Temple. 

"(P.J. is) one of my closest friends," Anderson said. "He came to Temple my redshirt sophomore year, and me and him broke out together. His first game, he came in off the bench and let a bomb go. That was my first big play. Since then, me and him took off. Me and him were going crazy out there."

During their two years together at Temple, Anderson hauled in 114 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. Since then, Anderson continued to stay in touch with Walker as he lit up the XFL this past spring.

"Me and him have open communication and we stayed in contact since he was in college and I was in the NFL," Anderson said. "I'm excited to have him there, as well as (fellow Owls) Tahir (Whitehead) and Keith Kirkwood, too."

Adding to the offense

If the jersey didn't give it away, Anderson admitted he's a fan of McCaffrey, and the two have already been in touch. 

"I spoke to Christian as soon as it was out there that I signed, he hit me up," Anderson said. "I'm excited to be on the field with him and have that talent around me."

Anderson spent a large part of Friday's video chat praising the Panthers' skill position pieces, from McCaffrey to Bridgewater to wide receivers DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel.

Working remotely

The Panthers were set to begin their offseason program Monday, but those plans have been delayed indefinitely. 

While players can't hit the field together, Anderson indicated they will be able to get some work in.

"Obviously, new head coach, we get an opportunity to start earlier," he explained. "I think we're starting on Monday with web stuff. Meetings through the camera."