Bryce Young has officially ascended to the throne.
The Alabama product and No. 1 overall pick took his place atop the highest of Panther pedestals on Thursday, joining the starting lineup for the first time in Carolina's organized team activities. Head coach Frank Reich told reporters this is all part of his plan to have Young ready to go for training camp, the regular season and beyond.
"Bryce has taken the snaps with the ones this week," Reich said on Thursday. "That was something at the beginning that (general manager) Scott (Fitterer) and I kind of earmarked the time when we thought would be best. Kind of mapping out, talked it through with the staff, you know, at the beginning of the offseason, this was kind of the time that we had marked this week to just kind of move him up.
"It's just the next step. There's really nothing to say other than, 'Hey, we just wanted to move him up this week.' Felt like it's been the right time. He had a couple weeks to watch Andy (Dalton). That was really good stuff. Andy's continued to perform at a very high level. Bryce is doing well. Matt (Corral) is doing well. Just trying to get our team ready."
Dalton has been, by all accounts, both remarkably helpful to and competitive with Young, and shouldn't be the least bit surprised by Young's promotion. This has always been the expectation, and fortunately for Panthers fans, Reich is going to spare them the breath wasted claiming there is a legitimate competition for the starting job.
Well, maybe not yet.
"Not yet," Reich said when asked if he felt comfortable naming Young the Week 1 starter. "He's showing everything you want to see. But again, this goes back to even the draft, you don't make a decision until you have to make it, right? We'll just keep giving him and our team the opportunity to get better and to earn that starting role. So far, he and a lot of our guys are taking the steps needed to earn that spot. But we don't have to make that decision yet, so we'll just kind of keep chugging along here."
Reich is, in typical coach fashion, avoiding speaking in absolutes when it's early June. For all intents and purposes, though, this is Young's job, and Young's team.
Ever the gracious quarterback, Young won't begin his path toward stardom without expressing initial gratitude for Dalton's help.
"Being able to learn from Andy, and you know, that's not something that's done -- every single day, I'm standing right by him and watching him operate," Young told reporters on Thursday. "Him talking to me in the locker room and the meeting rooms, giving me advice about everything. On the field, off the field, how he handles himself. How he conducts himself in the locker room. Everything. That's something that has helped me a lot and will continue to help. Andy has been amazing."
He'll be a trustworthy backup to Young with plenty of wisdom to lend to the face of Carolina's future -- a future the Panthers will begin to realize in the coming months.