CHARLOTTE — How Teddy Bridgewater performs will be critical to the Panthers' 2020 success. While a full-squad practice is still a couple of weeks away, head coach Matt Rhule is confident about how things will come together with under his quarterback.
Much of that has to do with Bridgewater's familiarity with the scheme. As has been well documented, Bridgewater and offensive coordinator Joe Brady worked closely with one another while they were each with the Saints in 2018.
"Teddy knows (Brady) so well. He and Joe just have a great relationship, a football relationship as a result of it, where they can talk about level three or level four coaching points because Teddy's been in it, he's worked in it," Rhule said Wednesday. "And the things that Joe's added, or changed, or brought from college, Teddy's picked up on so quickly."
Bridgewater also demonstrated plenty of leadership during the offseason program, at points running offensive meetings. That mastery of the system is encouraging for Rhule in the lead up to the season.
"He's just got a great way about him," Rhule said. "If it were up to him, he'd be here all day and going through it. I think that's important because only half of a quarterback is the physical stuff. In this league, it's about protecting yourself, and knowing the protections, and getting in the right plays. He just strikes me so far as being someone that really is into it."
Rhule compared the benefit of Bridgewater's familiarity with Brady to offensive line coach Pat Meyer's previous connections with three players in his unit. Left tackle Russell Okung, guard John Miller, and guard Michael Schofield have all been coached by Meyer before.
"Pat's unique in some of the things that the does. He's one of the great offensive line coaches," Rhule said. "It's really not as much about them, it's about them being able to constantly talk to the other guys and explain, hey, this is what we're looking for here."
As for Bridgewater's receiving targets, he should be able to lean on the likes of DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel. At this point, the coaching staff knows both receivers are talented. But because this group hasn't practiced yet, Brady still has work to do to figure out the duo's exact strengths within the system. Once that's determined, Rhule said, Brady will fit the scheme to their skill sets.
In Samuel, Rhule envisions a versatile player who can run deep routes from the outside and line up as a slot receiver or a running back.
"He brings, to me, kind of going back to his days at Ohio State, a sense of versatility that we think can be fun," Rhule said.
With Moore, Rhule would like to see the third-year receiver "go be that dominant, physical, go-to receiver that on third-and-5, you're going to, in the red zone you're going to. Take the matchup of the other team's best corner and just dominate it."
Rhule had positive news on both defensive tackle Kawann Short and kicker Graham Gano. The head coach said Short "looks like he's in fantastic shape" at 315 pounds, and is "in a position to have a special year." And while Rhule hasn't seen Gano kick yet, all reports from the club's medical staff have been encouraging.
"Just so disappointed for him. Just an amazing, amazing team guy — a guy that's overcome so much," Rhule said. "But I believe his best football is still ahead of him. Everything happens for a reason and he'll hopefully come back stronger and better in the future."
View photos of Carolina's rookie class reporting to Bank of America Stadium.