“I wish Bryce were in there getting this experience and having this opportunity to kind of log this one in the books,” Reich said. “But Andy’s been in there before and performed well there. But we’re going in against a good team. It’s early in the year; everybody’s going to be fired up. Their fans will be juiced up like they always are. But Andy’s experience will definitely help.”
Dalton has worked with the first-team offense throughout the week and Reich and the staff have expressed confidence in his performance since he got here.
“This guy is practicing at a high level,” Reich said. “The way he’s throwing the football, the way he works through progressions, the way he handles the operation. … Since day one (when) he walked in the door, I’m like, ‘This guy is starter-worthy.’ You guys know I’ve said that all along. He’s, in my opinion, one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the world. So really glad we have him for situations like this. He’s had a really good week in practice. And looking forward to seeing him play.”
Young was sidelined from all practices this week with the ankle injury, which Reich categorized as a sprain. The injury was sustained at an unknown point during the Panthers’ loss to the Saints on Monday Night Football. He continued to play through it.
“Every player – probably everybody here at some point has kind of worked through a sprained ankle, different kinds of sprains and all that stuff,” Reich said. “I’m sure playing on it during the game, it just got worse and worse. And then once you stop moving around, it really pops its ugly head. But a credit to Bryce, we really feel good about the path he’s on.”
Reich said they’re expecting him to get back from the injury in 1-2 weeks. And once Young is back, he is the starter.
“I think Bryce has done well this week,” Reich said. “I’m optimistic that he’s on the right path, that whatever the soonest he can get back is, he will get back. And when he gets back, and when he’s clear, he’s our guy. And he’ll be ready to go.”
As for this week, Dalton has logged 162 career starts over this long NFL career and was brought here to provide an experienced presence to a quarterback room highlighted by its star talent.
They’ll also elevate Jake Luton from the practice squad as this week’s No. 2 quarterback. Luton was signed to the practice squad this week but has experience with the offense as he went through much of training camp with the team.
“I feel good about Jake,” Reich said. “He was here for training camp, very smart guy, knows the offense, good chemistry in the room. And that’s important too. So confident with Jake and glad he’s here.”
In a press conference Thursday, Dalton was clear about his intentions should he come in to lead the Panthers’ offense.
Dalton’s a bigger role-player strictly while Young recovers, and he is perfectly fine with that. That’s what the mission has always been.
“My goal is to win,” he replied when asked about his potential role for Sunday. “Especially here, this is Bryce’s thing. I’m not here to make this a competition, make it some thing.
“I’m here to help the team.”
Reich said Young has made enough progress in his recovery that he will be able to make the trip to Seattle, even if he won’t be playing. And if Young stays on the current course, “there’s a chance” he could play in Week 4 against the Vikings.
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