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Carolina Panthers Notebook: Dave Canales Lauds Several Players During Mandatory Minicamp

Panthers Notebook: A scuffle between two players on Wednesday highlighted what Dave Canales said was a competitive NFL mandatory minicamp.

Dave Canales didn’t mind witnessing two teammates exchange heated words. Or engage in an end-zone scuffle during Day 2 of the Carolina Panthers NFL mandatory minicamp.  

The first-year coach described Wednesday’s experience as “another great day.”   

During team drill portions at the practice field behind Bank of America Stadium, new pass-rush specialist Jadeveon Clowney and running back Raheem Blackshear disputed a touchdown catch and became involved in a scuffle.   

Nothing major, Canales said, noting the emotion highlighted the “competition” of the rebuilding Panthers’ offseason training. He appreciated how Blackshear didn’t shy away from a possible mismatch. Clowney stands at 6-foot-5, 266 pounds and Blackshear is listed at 5-9, 190 pounds.   

“The competition is what we want to see,” Canales said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We want to see the energy. It was a lively deal.   

“We pushed it to the edge, guys were getting really chippy. Just kind of asked them: Play at that edge, (but) let’s not step over, let’s protect our team, let’s be great teammates first. And the guys handled it and responded well.”  

The Panthers enter their summer break following Thursday’s pad-less practice and meetings. They are scheduled to return for training camp in late July.   

“What I came into was a group that already knows how to work, a group that knows how to create a great locker room environment,” Canales said. “So a lot of these things that you want and expect from a pro team, these guys have that, and they have that standard already set.  

“And I’m just like, great, let’s keep doing this.” 

Panthers Notebook: Dave Canales Lauds Several Players During Mandatory Minicamp

Bryce Young Developing Chemistry With Diontae Johnson

Wide receiver Diontae Johnson, one of the offense’s key offseason additions, worked his way free of top cornerback Jaycee Horn and executed an athletic touchdown reception from quarterback Bryce Young during team drills Tuesday.

That’s the script general manager Dan Morgan penned when he helped create a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers to land the 27-year-old entering the final year of his contract. The Panthers’ anemic offensive unit needed reinforcements and Johnson’s acquisition was viewed as a foundational piece to help Young rebound from an underwhelming rookie campaign. The 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick finished with a 73.7 passer rating, 5.5 yards per attempt, and was sacked 62 times, tied for sixth most in NFL history.

The Panthers are coming off a league-worst 2-15 campaign.

A former Pro Bowler known for his precise route running, Johnson intends to give Young what he consistently lacked last season – a receiver who can create separation from the defensive backs.

“It’s been great,” Young said Wednesday. “It’s been great being able to throw to him, to work with him. He’s a super, super hard-working guy. Super competitive.”

DJ Johnson’s Injury Adds To OLB Woes 

The edge position has taken a few hits this season offseason and the linebacking room may need additional help.

Free-agent acquisition D.J. Wonnum remains sidelined following quadriceps surgery along with Amare Barno (ACL) and Eku Leota (calf). K’Lavon Chaisson, another free-agent signee, participated in the three-day mandatory minicamp but skipped the three phases of offseason training activities (OTAs). 

The position group suffered another blow Tuesday when DJ Johnson suffered a knee injury during a special teams drill. The 2023 third-round draft pick was carted off the field. 

Canales did not have a medical update following Wednesday’s workout but remained optimistic Johnson escaped major damage. Regarding a preliminary prognosis, Canales said: “It was not anything that was really serious.” 

Main Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports


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