Decked out in a No. 22 Christian McCaffrey jersey and a Panthers cap, new wide receiver Robby Anderson made it clear from his South Florida home on Friday that he's ready to get started in Carolina.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping Anderson out of Charlotte for the foreseeable future, it hasn't stopped him from beginning to connect with new teammates or reconnecting with former teammates and coaches he'll reunite with in Carolina.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Anderson's virtual introductory press conference:
Robby Anderson game highlights from 2019 Get to know new wide receiver Robby Anderson Photos of Robby Anderson through the years
Reuniting with Rhule
Anderson and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule have a long history that dates back to their time at Temple. Without Rhule, Anderson believes he wouldn't have made it to the NFL.
After his first season with the Owls, Anderson was ruled academically ineligible for the 2014 season and was forced to leave the university. For the next year, Rhule went to bat Anderson, helping him find his way back into school and onto the field.
"He stood on the table for me numerous times, and stood on the table with the university to get me back into school to open up that door for me to right my wrongs and get to be in the position that I'm in today," Anderson said.
And that history was a big reason Anderson signed up to reunite with Rhule.
"I know winning is in his blood,'' Anderson said. "I know that's what he's here to do. There wasn't much that he really had to sell me on.
"It was in the back of my mind when I saw that he was hitting the market to become a head coach. I already knew I would want to go there, and then when I saw that (quarterback) Teddy (Bridgewater) signed there, I just felt like it was the icing on the cake. It really attracted me to want to be a Panther."
South Florida connection
Speaking of Bridgewater, back in high school, Anderson and Carolina's new quarterback were supposed to play on the same 7-on-7 team. Things changed, though, and the two became opponents instead. Then, for a brief window in 2018, the South Florida natives teamed up in New York, before the Jets traded Bridgewater to New Orleans just ahead of the regular season.
So now that they're both in Carolina, the duo will finally get the chance to see what they're capable of together.
"We had a strong connection," Anderson said. "Teddy helped me grow as a man. There were things I was kind of going through at the time with still adjusting to the NFL. He kind of helped me see things from an older perspective even though we are the same age."
While the two never formally knew each other during their high school days, Anderson said he knew all about Bridgewater. That familiarity, and their Florida backgrounds, made it easier to bond during their brief time together in New York.
"It's easy for me to talk to him because we come from the same culture and similar backgrounds," Anderson said. "It's easy for me to talk football with him. He understands how to get a receiver in rhythm, and we have a natural friendship, a natural chemistry on the field."