3 important observations from Carolina Panthers 2024 rookie minicamp

There was a lot to unpack.
Ja'Tavion Sanders
Ja'Tavion Sanders / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages
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After one of the most dramatic offseasons in recent memory, it was great to see draft picks and undrafted free agents begin their respective NFL journeys. The Carolina Panthers held their two-day rookie minicamp under the watchful eye of head coach Dave Canales, which is typically seen as the bedding-in period before first-year pros join forces with established veterans in the coming weeks.

The Panthers have a quiet sense of hope that better days are ahead. The bar isn't exactly high in that regard when one considers how things unfolded during the previous campaign. It'll be a long road back to prosperity, but Canales seems confident enough if everything comes together before competitive action begins once again.

While it'll be a long preparation period for players, the rookie class only gets one chance to make a good first impression. Several undrafted free agents and guys trying out for the team were moved on after Carolina's rookie minicamp concluded. This is another strong indicator that anyone not pulling their weight will be demoted down the depth chart or removed from the equation entirely.

With that being said, here are three important observations from Carolina's rookie minicamp in 2024.

Observations from Carolina Panthers 2024 rookie minicamp

Ja'Tavion Sanders' ambition

There is plenty of intrigue surrounding Ja'Tavion Sanders heading into his rookie campaign. While asking the tight end to assume blocking responsibilities at this early stage would be foolish, the Carolina Panthers drafted him at No. 101 overall almost solely to provide quarterback Bryce Young with another dependable weapon in the passing game.

Sanders - to the surprise of most - took No. 85 instead of the No. 0 he donned at Texas. When probed about the decision, the fourth-round selection stated via USA Today Sports that he feels like such a unique number - previously worn by stud edge rusher Brian Burns before he was traded to the New York Giants - must be earned. He also set himself a long-term goal that centered around replicating the influence of the best tight end in franchise history.

“I feel like every rookie gotta earn their number. I knew I wasn’t gonna have 0 coming in, so I’ve already had that mindset knowing what I gotta do. Come in, put the work in, day in, day out to earn that number. I told everybody I’m trying to be the next Greg Olsen here."

This is a lofty target for Sanders to aim for. Reaching this level of productivity might be difficult, but it's something he'll strive to attain as the Panthers look to finally solve their complex riddle at the position since Olsen's departure.