Former Duke tight end Braxton Deaver spent the weekend trying out for his hometown team, a few miles from his family’s SouthPark residence. Despite the proximity, the former Providence High standout essentially told his friends and family to leave him alone for the duration of the Panthers’ rookie minicamp.
“It was wake up early and grind all day. It was a pretty big playbook thrown at you for two days, and ‘Get it right or get off the field,’ ” Deaver said.
“It was something that if I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t going to be able to succeed out here,” he added. “So I had to kind of hole myself up a bit and put the phone away. Definitely friends and family were calling.”
The self-imposed isolation worked. Deaver, who endured an injury-plagued college career, did not drop a pass all weekend and is among the tryout players under consideration for a roster spot, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
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“We liked what he did. We thought he did some nice things,” Rivera said Saturday. “He seemed to assimilate nicely to our offense. He seemed to understand and get a grip of what we wanted to do mentally and he did some things athletically.”
The Panthers have five available roster spots, and are expected to sign several of the 35 tryout players.
Deaver, who underwent ACL surgeries to both knees at Duke, received increased reps after tight ends Beau Sandland (a seventh-round pick) and Jake McGee (undrafted free agent) injured their hamstrings.
He made the most of it, while stealing occasional glances at the Duke Energy building and Bank of America tower.
“I would just kind of look over the skyline and be like, man, I couldn’t be happier to be here. I couldn’t be happier to be in my home city and be able to play for the Panthers,” Deaver said. “It was something that gave me a little bit of an edge, to be honest.”