Rookie training camp has started for the Carolina Panthers, and so the coaching staff will get their first chance to see their 7 draft picks at work, while also looking at players who could fill out their practice squad. A focused microscope will be on Luke Kuechly, who has handled his interviews professionally and already impressed the coaching staff.
“He’s exactly what we thought he is. He’s an athletic, big guy that runs well, a very smart football player, very sharp. He handled things very well for us, and I’m pretty excited about what we got from him today. He’s going to learn and grow within our defense, and we feel very confident about his abilities,” Ron Rivera said.
“He looked good. We put a little bit of pressure on him, stressed him a little bit having to learn both positions (weakside and middle linebacker). But we think he’s that kind of football player, that kind of athlete – a very sharp, heady guy but very athletic and physical. So we’re pretty excited about what he can do.”
Kuechly led college football in tackles the last two seasons, and will help out a defense that was woefully outperformed by the Panthers offense last year.
When asked what position Kuechly will be starting the year at, Rivera responded, “We’ll start him on the outside and then we’ll rotate him inside. But he’ll start on the outside, and Jon (Beason) will be in the inside. I’ve talked with Jon about him playing inside and outside as well. It’s going to be an interesting experiment as we go through this, because we want to make sure we put the best unit on the football field and the best combination of players.”
It will be a different ball-game when the rookies join the veterans, and that will be when Kuechly has to prove himself the most, against veteran, stronger, smarter competition.