Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Bryce Young, Dave Canales react to Panthers’ prime-time snub: ‘It’s out of our control’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If there was ever a reminder that the Carolina Panthers‘ brand is not what it once was, the release of the 2024 NFL schedule made it explicitly clear where the franchise currently stands: After years of instability and an NFL-worst 2-15 record in 2023, the Panthers were the lone team in the National Football League to not receive a single prime-time game when their schedule was unveiled one week ago.

While the Panthers have five games slated for the 4 p.m. ET window — and their Week 10 game in Munich against the New York Giants will be an NFL Network standalone at 9:30 a.m. — the majority of their games this upcoming season will take place in the 1 p.m. ET window, putting them relatively out of sight and out of mind in the grand scheme of the NFL landscape. For those most faithful to the Panthers and those who both remember and experienced their glory days, such a snub has been a bitter pill to swallow: Carolina’s all-time leading rusher and franchise great Jonathan Stewart took exception to his team’s lack of a prime-time game, saying on a podcast that the current team should feel disrespected and that he would use it as motivation as a player.

On the first day of Panthers OTAs on Monday, quarterback Bryce Young — a player accustomed to the spotlight as a star at Alabama and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — was asked if he took his team not receiving a prime-time game as a slap in the face.

“It’s out of our control. I’m big on just focusing on us — focusing on what I can control,” Young said. “I’m not huge on trying to find external motivation from something else. I’m not huge on ‘Oh, if someone slights me or slights us I want to hold onto it.’ And there’s nothing wrong with it, everyone gets their fire and their fuel from certain places. For me, I just try to be internally motivated and push myself to be the best I can, I want us to be the best we can. That’s kind of my outlook on everything.

“Obviously it is what it is. I get it, I understand what it is. Now it’s on us to do what we need to do.”

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to argue with the schedule-makers’ reasoning in keeping the Panthers out of the national spotlight: Since David Tepper bought the team in 2018, the Panthers have gone 31-68 and have gone through five different head coaches, including three interims, since the dismissal of all-time winningest coach Ron Rivera late in the 2019 season.

First-year head coach Dave Canales, who is now the sixth head coach to follow Rivera, is the franchise’s latest hope to find stability and a way back to the heights they once achieved last decade. When asked about his team being snubbed from prime time, Canales gave a fairly grounded and honest answer about what it takes to get put in the spotlight.

“You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to earn prime-time games,” Canales said. “Those things don’t just come along. Every year you don’t start out that way — They don’t just throw you on prime-time games for no reason. We have to build something, a version of football that we’re proud of, and be able to accentuate the strengths and talents of our guys that we have.

“And then, I think that the world will want to see that at some point. But we’ve got a long way to go and we’ve got to earn those type of opps.”

When asked about using a prime-time snub as motivation for Panthers players, Canales stressed that he is not a “negative motivator” and instead chooses to focus on possibilities. He did leave the possibility of players being individually motivated by no prime-time games, but the team’s lack of star power relative to the rest of the league is a part of the issue.

The Panthers have gradually lost what high-end talent they have had over the last several seasons, a trend that continued this offseason when star pass rusher Brian Burns was traded to the New York Giants. Presently, defensive tackle Derrick Brown is the lone member of the team’s homegrown core to have made a Pro Bowl, having done so for the first time last season.

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