CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young will miss one to two weeks with a sprained ankle suffered in Monday night’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, coach Frank Reich said on Friday.
The top pick of the 2023 NFL draft will be replaced by veteran Andy Dalton, starting with Sunday’s game at Seattle.
Despite Carolina’s 0-2 start under Young, Reich said the former Alabama star will return as the starter when healthy regardless of how well Dalton does. Reich didn’t rule out next week’s home game against Minnesota, noting Young already has been cleared medically to travel to Seattle.
“Bryce has done well this week,” Reich said. “I’m optimistic he’s on the right path. Whatever the soonest he can get back is, he will get back. And when he gets back, he’ll be our guy.”
But Reich says he is confident in Dalton, calling him one of the “32 best quarterbacks in the NFL.”
“This guy [is] playing at a high level,” Reich said. “The way he’s throwing the football, the way he works through progressions, the way he’s playing the game … since day one, when he’s walked through the door, I said he’s starter worthy.”
Dalton looks forward to the opportunity to start, understanding his role remains to help shape Young’s career.
“It’s always nice because I have had a certain way of operating in my career, and when you go from starting to being the backup, that is one of the things that you miss,” he said. “When you get a chance to take ownership of what you’re doing, and to know how you want it to look and how you want it to feel and see it executed, that is what makes football fun.”
Dalton is 1-1 against the Seahawks in Seattle, with his only two starts coming for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and 2019. But he understands Seattle’s reputation for having one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.
“This is one of those places that first hits your brain,” Dalton said. “It can become a factor in the game if you let. But that is where you have to make sure you are communicating well.”
Dalton will face a Seattle team that ranks 31st in total defense, giving up 422 yards per game. The Seahawks have been particularly vulnerable against the pass, giving up 325 yards per game to rank 30th.
Dalton said the best way he can help the offense is by being himself.
“Pushing guys, pushing the tempo and everything we need to do to give ourselves a chance,” he said. “At end of the day, we’ve hurt ourselves. We’ve had opportunity to kind of change the outcome, but we had some turnovers that hurt us and different things.
“For me, I’m just going out there and try to be as efficient as I can.”