That’s how long Jaydon Mickens has been with the Carolina Panthers.
Last Wednesday, the team released three players, including local favorite Elijah Hood, to make room for three new additions, which included Mickens. It’s the first time he’s been put in a position like this. But the quick introduction to the Panthers and rapid turnaround to training camp that started the following day didn’t faze the wide receiver and punt returner.
“I adapted well, especially special teams because I know that room better,” Mickens said. “But I just need to adapt and get this offense down so I can give myself a better chance of making this team.”
Thankfully, he already knew several people on the team from playing together previously, including Shaq Thompson, or purely from social media and playing against them.
“Everybody welcomed (me) with open arms,” Mickens said. “They knew when I came here, I was gonna work hard, and I was just being me. The team clicks so I love it.
“I love it here.”
The 25-year-old is a unique player that can add flavor to the Panthers’ roster. He’s quick and has sticky hands, which makes it easier to catch wild throws from the quarterbacks. During Saturday’s practice, he caught throw after throw, only missing a handful due to tight coverage or poor throws.
In either scenario, Mickens stood out.
Take this play, for example, lining up parallel to rookie quarterback Will Grier.
On the coach’s cue, the wide receiver took off for 20 yards before making a quick stop to catch the ball. In between the turn and the catch, he had a split second to make sure he was in the right spot; he typically is, even as a punt returner.
Although the team didn’t heavily practice running the ball back, Mickens became an early eye catcher purely based on his ability to immediately pop off of his feet and sprint and soon as the ball touched his hands. He was such a standout that for the duration of that drill, the Panthers only played him.
This kind of performance can be expected of Mickens based on his three-year, two-team NFL career before Carolina.
“You’re going to get the best effort out of me,” Mickens said. “I’m going to do everything I can and going to play my role and stay in my lane to help this team win, no matter if it’s something that somebody doesn’t notice or if it’s something that I might go 63 yards to a touchdown.”
Mickens can fill a hole in the roster. He won a pair of special teams player-of-the-week honors in 2017 for his return skills with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Other noteworthy plays that season included touchdown returns of 63- and 72-yards, helping his 10.6-yard punt return average.
He was placed on injured reserve last season after breaking his ankle in Week 6, but on the field Saturday morning, he showed no signs of being injured nine months ago; his speed is hard to match.
“I just want to be a lightning bolt,” Mickens said. “Every time I’m out there, I just want somebody to hold their breath.”
That’s why he describes himself as electric, and he wants to bring that back to Charlotte.
“I’m trying to bring electricity to the stadium at all times,” Mickens said.