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Carolina Panthers working to create balanced experience during OTAs


By Kevin Tolbert


As NFL teams begin their OTAs for the 2023 season, one challenge they face is trying to create a balanced training experience for all of the players involved. For rookies, there is typically a stepper learning curve becasue, in addition to entering a new wolrd full of social, financial and predatory landmines, they must also begin the process of mastering what is often a more complex playbook and scheme than they may have encountered in college. Add to that the increase in the speed of the game and it can be quite daunting for first timers.


For veteran players, the challenge is just as difficult. Many of the experienced members of the team have the language and schemes committed to memory. Without live contact and players practicing only in jerseys and shorts, there is less to challenge senior members on the squad. Further, pushing limits cancan be costly as with the Chicago Bears who lost an OTA session due to excessive contact during the process.


Coaching staffs have to make sure there is enough time and new material to create new experiences and prevent a "going through the motions" scenario and get maximum participation. The Carolina Panthers are no exception.


Carolina Panthers' cornerback's coach Jonathan Cooley has the job of getting rookie defenders like Rejzohn Wright, Mark Milton and Colby Richardson up to speed. But he also has to work in his core leadership of the group. "I think coach Reich has done a great job with our schedule," Cooley said during a recent press conference.

"We actually have separate meeting with the rookies twice a day on phase two days."


The Panthers have had only one OTA session so far. Cooley has been doing his part to create a diverse experience but is fortunate to have fate on his side.


"What's different about a usual year with our rookies is everybody's learning a new defense...it's not really as much of a steap learning curve."


The Panthers next OTA session is set for June 1 and then June 8.



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