Panthers' O-line takes blame for Bryce Young's struggles - ESPN
playBryce Young completes first NFL pass to Adam Thielen for a 1st down (0:22)
Bryce Young finds Adam Thielen over the middle to give the Panthers a first down. (0:22)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The New York Jets were the featured team on HBO's "Hard Knocks'' for Saturday's preseason game at Bank of America Stadium, but it was Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young who took the hard knocks.
The top pick of the draft was hammered on two of his first three pass attempts and sacked on his 10th and final play.
It was so bad that offensive line coach James Campen called his group together for a private meeting after head coach Frank Reich addressed his players to let them know that wasn't an acceptable standard.
"We had to keep it real with each other,'' veteran tackle Cam Erving said. "The s--- wasn't good enough. Top to bottom, no matter if it's preseason, regular season, the s--- was not good enough. Any level, from any position, myself included, especially my f---ing self.
"All we can do is try to regroup and fix it.''
The best thing Young did was ease pre-draft concerns of durability because of his 5-foot-10, 204-pound frame. Each time he was knocked down, he bounced right back up.
The bigger concern for the Panthers after the 27-0 loss to a Jets team that didn't play quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the offensive line. A unit that was supposed to be a strength was exposed as Young was hit on three of seven pass plays.
"We found out he can take a hit,'' Erving said. "I mean, that wasn't really a surprise coming from where he played college ball [Alabama]. But that kid has been doing everything the right way, and we have to make sure we do a better job of protecting him.''
Reich waited until the start of the second half to ask his 22-year-old star how he was.
"'Well, that was a pretty good welcome to the NFL hit. How did that feel?' '' Reich said he asked Young. "He said it felt fine, he barely felt it.''
Ekwonu was beaten again on Young's second attempt, but the big blow came inside from Jermaine Johnson, who sent the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner several yards back.
Young finished 4-of-6 for 21 yards on 10 plays. His worst attempts came on third down, where he was 0-for-2 with two passes that were uncatchable.
But he never complained about the hits, saying "that's part of football'' and the only thing he can do is move on to the next play, which has been one of his strengths in camp.
"I feel fine,'' Young said. "Physically, I'm blessed and don't have any injuries.''
In terms of critics that worry about his durability, Young added, "Whatever people may assume or may think is going on, I don't control that. Those are what they are. That's not something I put thought into.''
Young did some good things. He got rid of the ball quickly and was accurate, even on his first pass that went to Adam Thielen for a first down on second-and-8 while he was being blindsided.
"But no doubt, I didn't want to see the pressure we had,'' Reich said.
Reich didn't commit to how much Young might play in the next two preseason games, saying much of that depends on how things go in practice.
From Erving's standpoint, Young did all he was supposed to Saturday.
"Poise, man. The kid's poised,'' he said. "He lives in the moment. That's all you can ask from a quarterback. He has a short-term memory. He did everything he was supposed to do. He processed everything.
"But us as an O-line, we have to do better.''