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Teammates are excited for Will Grier, who is going to need their help in first start


CHARLOTTE – You never forget your first start.

Tight end Greg Olsen, then a Chicago Bear, remembers everything going so fast throughout the day. Linebacker Luke Kuechly remembers making a mistake when the Panthers called a blitz against Tampa Bay.

It's a whirlwind. And that's the challenge for rookie quarterback Will Grier this week.

"I think the biggest thing is you just want to get out there and get settled down, get a completion, get hit," Olsen said. "Hopefully more of the former, not the latter. You just want to get into the flow of the game. Just get your feet under you."

Kuechly has been practicing against Grier all year. He's eager to see what the third-round pick can do against another defense in a game environment.

"Thought he did a great job commanding the huddle and making sure everybody is where they need to be," Kuechly said. "He's got great natural talent. He's got a great arm. He understands what our offense is doing. I think he's going to do a good job."

In order for Grier – or any quarterback to succeed – the other 10 guys on the field need to do their part.

That's something Olsen emphasized when he spoke to the media Thursday.

"Will is going to be excited. It's going to be on the road in a loud environment. He's got to realize he's got guys around him that can help him out," Olsen said.

"It's our responsibility to take some things off his plate. There are a lot of things we could have done to help (Kyle Allen) a little more. Now we've got to do that for Will."

Leaning on a certain star running back wouldn't be the worst idea.

"At the end of the day it's about going out there and executing, so we'll see," Christian McCaffrey said. "I'm excited to play next to (Will) and I know he's going to come in and give it his best."

Grier, the Charlotte native who grew up a Panthers fan, will be under the magnifying glass Sunday in Indianapolis.

Olsen hopes view his performance through the proper lens, however.

"I think we have to be careful about making too much of everything," Olsen said. "Every play call is not an analysis of his future, every throw is not make or break. We just have to make sure we don't make this more than it is. It's his first start and there's all those circumstances, but it's also one game and he has a long future ahead of him, hopefully.

"This is just the beginning. We can't make this a referendum of every single thing he does is how he's always going to do it – both good and bad. We have to take this for what it is, support him, surround him with a good plan. And then let him do his job."

View photos from Thursday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on Indianapolis on Sunday.