It'll be okay
Bryce Young’s official debut wasn’t one to remember. In fact, it was the worst the 22-year-old rookie has looked in the NFL thus far—preseason, obviously, included.
But let’s digest the “22-year-old rookie” part of that last sentence—because context matters.
A Heisman Trophy winner, this year’s No. 1 selection and a football savant—Young came into Sunday with a heap of expectations. Those, unfortunately, weren’t met—as he completed just 20 of his 38 throws for 146 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
While the results in the box score and on the scoreboard weren’t what Young and the Panthers were hoping for, it’s not crazy to say that it was kinda expected. Heck, he’s far from the first top overall pick to get off to an underwhelming start.
And just like every quarterback who has come before him, this is the beginning of a process. These are the growing pains. It’s normal.
Another tough break?
Speaking of normal, the Panthers may once again be without Jaycee Horn for a bit.
The 23-year-old cornerback left Sunday’s contest with what was noted as a hamstring injury. Horn came up limping after a non-contact move near the end of the first half and was ruled out at halftime.
While we await additional updates, the franchise and its fans probably can’t help but think of the worst given Horn’s history. Between injuries to his foot, ribs and wrist—the eighth overall pick missed 17 of a possible 33 games coming into the new campaign.
A long-term setback would be especially hurtful to Carolina’s defense as well, considering they weren’t exactly deep at the position—even with Horn on the field.
Pay that man!
Luckily for that defense, they’ll seemingly have Brian Burns at their disposal in 2023. The two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher, even the midst of suboptimal contract talks, told reporters after the game that he intends on playing out the season.
And based on what we saw during said game, that’s bad news for all opposing quarterbacks on Carolina’s schedule.
Burns made his presence known immediately, stomping out Atlanta’s first possession with a sack of quarterback Desmond Ridder. He finished the day with 1.5 sacks and seven tackles—second only on the team to defensive lineman Derrick Brown (nine).
The 25-year-old—day in and day out—has proven to be the ideal teammate, the consummate professional and the standout defender. It’s time this organization makes it all right.