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With a "good foundation" in place, Panthers are ready to see where O-line and Bryce Young can go

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CHARLOTTE--For as much as things change in football, to Harold Goodwin, there is one outstanding truth.

"I believe any offensive line on any football team is the foundation to the team," he said.

Goodwin was meeting with local media on Tuesday, his first time since being named the assistant head coach and run game coordinator for the Panthers. His declaration about the offensive line extended beyond just the running game though, but to what a football team can do as a whole.

Luckily for Goodwin, and the entire offense for that matter, the Panthers invested heavily (both literally and monetarily) this offseason, signing free agent guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, then shifting Austin Corbett in to center to go along with tackles Ikem Ekwonu and Taylor Moton.

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While Goodwin and the rest of Dave Canales' staff hasn't been on the field with the players yet—that will come next week when voluntary veteran mini-camp begins—Goodwin has seen a group come together on paper that can be a game changer.

"I'm excited for the group. Obviously, you've got five guys that can play at a high level. The biggest thing, knock on wood, we've just got to stay healthy," Goodwin said. "All of those guys are high quality players, Pro Bowl-level players, not to put pressure on any of them, but I expect big things from that group to help this team out."

And if the offensive line is the foundation of any team, Goodwin is encouraged by what the Panthers have put together; "I feel like we've got a good start to a good foundation to the future."

That foundation should extend to Bryce Young. Giving the second-year quarterback a line that is not only better equipped to match talent with position, but also has a history of staying healthy and available, could make a world of difference for Young, who played with 15 different starting guards his rookie season (seven at left guard, eight at right guard) and was sacked a franchise-record-tying 62 times.

As the updated line presumably gives Young more protection, offensive coordinator Brad Idzik expects to see more of the Young he scouted while coaching last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Obviously a winner," Idzik said Tuesday of his quarterback, referring back to last year when he evaluated him coming out of Alabama. "You look at a guy, he finds a way to win. His arm talent is phenomenal. He makes great professional throws all over the field at the short, intermediate and down the field as well. But he's a winner and, and that's something you can't truly quantify all the time."

Idzik, Canales and quarterbacks coach, Will Harriger, know they can't rely completely on Bryce Young's college tape though. So, over the last couple of months, they've also watched every snap of Young's rookie season.

Instead of approaching the offseason with the mindset of "how do we fix Bryce" however, the plan is to focus at the outset, on what Young does well and grow from there.

"We really focused on the positives. We went back, we studied last season, but we saw what he did throw," Idzik shared. "And like mentioned, where do you want to take this team, X's and O's wise, is where do you want to take your quarterback? And what does he show immediately that he's willing to sit back there and rip?

"As we go and he shows us on the field here, this off-season, we'll continue to build on the fundamentals. Will Harriger, one of the most prepared quarterback's coaches you'll ever come across, has examples of everything and he's showing it to him on the daily. And then I can't wait to watch him get his hands dirty with him on the field, just honing in on all the fundamentals, the footwork, and then just being on time with the wide outs."

Speaking of the wide-outs, just as with Young, Idzik isn't concerned so much with what they've done, but more what they can do. So whether that's a veteran like Adam Thielen, a recent acquisition like Diontae Johnson, or a young player such as Jonathan Mingo, he's approaching them the same way.

"We're operating with a blank slate. So, we are starting from square one with every single guy and investing in him and his development this off season," Idzik explained.

"We're just letting them show us through the tape that they put on, the things they put on tape this off season, what is their progression looking like now currently? So, we're just excited to really just strip this thing down to the bolts and build things up one day at a time."

The main goal, as players take the field next week and kick the offseason work into high gear, is to see what shape this team wants to take organically. And now that a solid foundation is seemingly in place with the offensive line, this team, according to Idzik, can go wherever it wants to go.

"Kind of start to angle our team and our philosophies with what they're showing us," Idzik explained. "Giving them a good enough width and a good enough sample size, to see where this team wants to go."

View photos from the weight room as the Panthers' players went through their second week of voluntary offseason workouts on April 15, 2024.

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