Panthers’ Young not expected to play vs. Seahawks, Dalton in line to start

Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young passes against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (Jacob Kupferman/AP)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers veteran quarterback Andy Dalton admits he’s having a little more fun this week knowing he’s likely to start Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Panthers said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that rookie QB Bryce Young “isn’t expected to play ” after missing his second straight day of practice Thursday. 

Team spokesperson Bruce Speight confirmed to The Associated Press that Young is not expected to play.

That means Jake Luton is expected to be promoted from the practice squad and be Carolina’s No. 2 QB this week.

“For me, obviously — absolutely,” Dalton said with a smile. “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. … 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 made it clear his goal is not to steal Young’s starting job, but instead to help the Panthers win.

Young, the No. 1 pick in the draft, injured his ankle at some point during Carolina’s 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said the rookie got hurt sometime in the first half, but didn’t tell anyone until after the game. Young finished the game, throwing a touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion to Adam Thielen on his final drive.

Thursday’s practice was the most important of the week for the Panthers (0-2) given they’re working on a short week and it was the primary day for game plan installation.

While it is trending toward Dalton starting, Brown wouldn’t declare him the starter.

When asked if he would feel comfortable starting a rookie such as Young if he sat out practice all week, Brown replied “I would, no question — that rookie. I wouldn’t make a general statement when it comes to all rookies, but that rookie I would.”

Young was seen walking out to practice without a boot on his ankle, but he did not have his practice gear.

He was not available during the team’s open locker room session.

Carolina’s offense has struggled in the first two weeks with the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback.

Young ranks 31st in the NFL in passer rating, having completed 59.2% of his passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first two games. He’s also fumbled once.

The Panthers rank last in the league in passing and tied for 30th in points scored.

“I don’t feel like it has been one thing that has caused it,” Dalton said of the team’s lack of production. “I feel like it has been different things every single time. Different guys taking turns on missed assignments or the execution just hasn’t been there. That is the thing with offensive football, everybody has to be on the same page for it to work.”

This might be the week for the Panthers to get rolling on offense.

Seattle’s defense has been anything but dominant the first two games and ranks 31st in the league in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. They are last in the NFL in third down defense.

Dalton’s veteran presence on Sunday might play to Carolina’s advantage, particularly given he’s played in loud stadiums before.

Dalton is 83-77-2 as a starter during his previous 12 NFL seasons, while throwing for 244 touchdowns and 144 interceptions. He spent nine seasons in Cincinnati before one-year stops in Dallas, Chicago and New Orleans.

“When you talk about the environments and crowd noise, (Seattle) is one of those places that first hits your brain,” Dalton said. “It can become a factor in the game if you let it. But that is where you have to make sure you are communicating well.”

Center Bradley Bozeman said the Panthers will be in good shape if Dalton starts.

“When I was in Baltimore, he lit us up a couple of times for sure,” Bozeman said. “He’s still got it. He has been rocking and rolling the whole time he’s been here and that is why he is here. He’s a great leader.”

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