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With nightmarish rookie season behind him, Panthers QB Bryce Young ready to get back on track in 2024

If Bryce Young entered 2024 with a lack of confidence, nobody would blame him.

The 2023 No. 1 overall pick's rookie season was, as his father described to ESPN, "awful." But Young arrived equipped with a rare set of skills that have helped him persist, thanks to being raised by a father who worked as a mental health therapist for two decades, a mother who taught in special education and a grandfather who was a psychologist.

It's no surprise Young graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Alabama. Armed with that knowledge, Young knew how to handle the challenges of a nightmarish rookie season, which still provided him with the benefit of experience.

"It's helped me through my whole life," Young said, via ESPN. "The good, the bad, indifferent; making sure that myself, internally, I'm OK. Luckily, I've been very conscious of that my whole life, so I've had a lot of practice compartmentalizing things and trying to have healthy habits."

Now, thanks to the arrival of head coach Dave Canales, Young feels as if he is growing into a leading role with the Panthers. He's been through the fire and has a trustworthy -- and calming -- coach now in charge.

"It's constructive,'' Young said of Canales' disposition. "If you miss something or do something wrong it gives you something tangible to [say], 'Let's get our base in order.' It's something you can think about and apply. It's been really good for me."

When everything was falling apart in 2023, Young didn't have anyone to turn to. Frank Reich lost his job after 11 games, the offensive line failed to protect him, and it became clear the responsibilities were too much for Young to handle all on his own.

Folks in Charlotte believe 2024 won't produce the same outcome, not with Canales directing the offense and new additions providing Young with a better supporting cast.

Most importantly, the Panthers have not wavered on Young's place in their franchise. He's still the guy, and some believe he's positioned for greatness, starting in 2024.

"It's instilling confidence in him, knowing that he's giving him the keys to this offense,'' veteran backup Andy Dalton said. "We're going to see Bryce do things he didn't do last year just because of the experience. We're already seeing it right now.''

All of this isn't to say Young is suddenly going to become a cheerleader for his team. The notably quiet quarterback admitted he's "going to be true to I am" and "I'm not going to be somebody I'm not."

But at minimum, Young already knows what it's like to struggle mightily at the NFL level. He's not about to let it tank his career, and if he can overcome future challenges and execute under a coach known for guiding quarterbacks to career years elsewhere, he just might deliver on his teammates' expectations by producing a Year 2 jump similar to that of Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow.

"I'm far from perfect,'' Young said. "We all have our struggles and things, and we have good and bad days. But it's like any season, it's important during a time when there's a lot going on and a lot of stressful situations, knowing that's a time to make sure I really don't lose sight of things mentally.''

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