Robby Anderson meant no disrespect missing OTAs. Now Panthers want to add to his game

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It wasn’t personal, Robby Anderson said Tuesday, talking to reporters after his first offseason practice with the Panthers.

Earlier this month, during voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), Anderson was a no-show in Charlotte, staying back in Miami while the rest of his Carolina teammates spent time working together on the field. He was the only Panthers player not dealing with an injury to miss every day of voluntary OTAs.

But voluntary is just that, and Tuesday he showed up when had to for the first day of mandatory minicamp, looking like a veteran.

“I was working,” Anderson said. “It’s not like I was sitting around doing nothing. I know the best I am, the better I can be to everybody in my life.”

Anderson, who said his coaches and teammates didn’t have a problem with his absence, noted he felt that at this point in his career, he knows how to get himself ready in the offseason, adding that the program he was working on with his trainer was going well.

Anderson is on the last season of a two-year $20 million contract with the Panthers. He made $8 million in 2020 and will make $12 million this year, according to overthecap.com, making him the 27th highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. And he’s expected to again be a key piece to the Panthers’ offense this fall.

He had the best season of his career in 2020. He caught 95 passes, which ranked 10th in the NFL, for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns. It was his first 1,000-yard season in his five-year career. He led the Panthers in receptions and was second in receiving yards behind DJ Moore.

“All of us as we really truly master who we are and what we are becoming, I want to see him be someone who is really disciplined in route running,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said. “We all know he’s an explosive playmaker. He’s a tough guy, he catches the ball across the middle.

“I’m hoping we can add some vertical element to his game.”

Working in Anderson’s favor this year is being reunited with former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who the Panthers traded for in April.

He caught 88 passes for 1,353 yards and 11 touchdowns from Darnold for two years in New York before joining the Panthers in 2020.

Anderson said he likes the idea of adding a vertical element to his game.

“When you look at it, my game in New York was more down the field and vertical, but I didn’t have the intermediate opportunities,” Anderson said. “I think with Coach Rhule expressing that, and then you mix that with last year, I think that’s something to look forward to.”

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