Now that the Carolina Panthers offseason workouts have concluded, the players head to their favorite vacation spots for a little relaxation. Well, most players anyways. Undrafted wide receiver Austin Duke knows he does not have that luxury.
“I can’t take time off.” Duke recently told me. “If I take time off, then I will have permanent time off and I don’t want that.”
Duke will be spending his down time in Tampa at ASPI, a training program for wide receivers and cornerbacks. Instead of relaxing on a tropical beach, Duke will be grinding as if training camp has already started.
Since signing with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent, Duke has done nothing but impress. Frequently during OTAs, the Panthers twitter feeds would highlight his performance with notes such as these:
Austin Duke is running away from people again. Undrafted rookie WR has flashed throughout OTAs.
— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) June 7, 2017
Sound familiar? It should. Over the past few years more than one undrafted receiver has played his way onto the regular roster. Philly Brown did it his rookie season, and more recently Damiere Byrd earned a gameday jersey. The opportunity exists, and Austin Duke knows it.
“Everything is there for the taking” Duke said. “If they are giving me an opportunity, then they are saying that I can do it.”
According to Duke, he is a part of all special teams units. While his receiving skills are getting plenty of attention, it may be his special teams ability that ultimately give him the best chance at making the final roster. If he can prove to be a sure handed punt returner, for example, his chances of making the team increase by a great deal.
You can listen to my entire conversation with Austin Duke on the following platforms or simply search for Carolina Huddle on your preferred podcast app and subscribe.
itunes – http://apple.co/2oUMa64
Google Music – http://bit.ly/2rwYQid