CHARLOTTE – Thomas Brown's leadership style is a product of his surroundings, and he attributed much of that to his parents.
In his first press conference Thursday since becoming the Panthers' offensive coordinator, Brown credited his father, who he's named after, as the best leader he knew. Brown's father is a bishop in a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and his mother's a retired schoolteacher, and he said his personality strikes a balance between the two of them.
"I think I was raised to be a leader before I even knew I was going to become one," Brown said. "Just watching (my father), how he dealt with people, never being rattled. And being honest, it's something I've modeled myself after.
"We are different, but I'm kind of a combination of my father and also my mother. The aggressive side, at times, I will say the argumentative side is from my mom. … It's a good thing. She's a great debater. So I'm a really good balance of both."
On the football side, Brown credited Marcus Satterfield at Chattanooga, Bill Legg at Marshall, Bryan McClendon at South Carolina, and Mark Richt from his time at Georgia and Miami (Fla.) as influential figures in his development as a coach.
"It's kind of an effort about everywhere I've been from a production standpoint," Brown said. "But also just putting my own stamp on it as well."
– Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley also met with the media for the first time, discussing what excited him about taking the Panthers' job after his stint with the Lions.
"It's all about grit," Staley said. "I just left a team – Detroit – where it was about grit. I see a bunch of hungry men, and I can't wait to get out there with them and go to war with them. When it comes to coaching, it's a couple of things. Number one, putting them in a position to make plays. That's number one.
"Number two is getting them to run through a brick wall with me and not for me. Because I'm going to be the first one to run through the brick wall. I'm going to lead the charge. And then after that, show them that I love them. You can't go to war with these men unless you show them that you love them."
Staley, who said he was in the room for some of the Panthers' assistant coaching interviews, said everyone on head coach Frank Reich's staff had those traits in common.
"Frank will tell you this, we all have something in common," Staley said. "And that's grit, to get these young men better, and to love them. Because today, you've got to have all three in order to go out there, go to war, and ask them to do something each and every day that they believe in, that we believe in. You've got to have love."
– In the week before the combine, Staley dove into the history behind his combine drill.
The Duce Staley drill for running backs has been used since 2020, and it tests a runner's ability to change direction in a small space. The drill is set up with three bags on the ground to form the shape of a letter T. Players step over the bags from the left side at first, then finish the drill in reverse before running up the field on either the right or left based on where a coach is lined up. Staley referred to it as "The T drill."
Staley said the drill started when he coached LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia, looking to challenge the running back with "some of the quickest feet" he has seen.
"He was like, 'Man, you've got to get something that's going to challenge me.' He was a little cocky, and I loved it," Staley said. "So I went back and started looking at certain things. … I put the T drill out there, and probably for the first week, he tripped over it every time. So I was just laughing. Sooner or later, when you have an athlete like that, he mastered it."
Staley has 12 years of NFL coaching experience, including assistant positions with the Eagles (2011-20) and Lions (2021-22).