In a normal year, the Carolina Panthers would be coming off their first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and have more of an idea of what their team's strengths and weaknesses are.
Instead, the year is not normal and the Panthers just finished up their second week of Training Camp and their first competitive practice on Friday.
"It hit me how fast that would've been if we had to play Jacksonville," Rhule said on Friday. "It made me appreciate this ramp-up and what we're doing and gave me a sense of reality."
With two more weeks remaining before the regular season, here are some of the topics Rhule touched on during his weekly press conference on Friday:
What he's been most impressed with:
"You see the explosiveness, the competitiveness, it's just so fast, in a good way. Just the willingness of the guys getting out there wanting to compete against each other, work against each other and you see it upfront on the O-Line and D-Line. It's not live contact but it's fast and I think the guys did a really nice job in the walk-through learning the details and their craft. It's fun to see them full speed."
"I think everybody is there for a reason and everybody has done a nice job. There's nobody I'm disappointed in it just depends on when you put the helmet and the pads on and really start playing."
On how the rookies have been adjusting:
"I've been very pleased with the rookies. I think they've done a really nice job grinding at their own place and they've done a great job fitting in with the veterans. The first three guys we drafted, Derrick Brown, (Yetur) Gross-Matos and (Jeremy) Chinn, they've stepped right in."
"From the undrafted guys, Sam Tecklenburg who played for me at Baylor has done a really nice job--Omar Bayless and many more so I think there's a lot of guys there in this unique year with 16 guys on the practice squad will find roles for us on the active roster."
On the quarterbacks adjusting to Joe Brady's offense:
"I think it's great that Teddy (Bridgewater) knew the system. Joe changed a lot of things so Teddy has had to learn a lot of new things but you look at Will Grier and P.J. Walker who didn't know it and they've done a fantastic job learning it. That's a really healthy room for us."
If the slower ramp-up has helped:
"To a degree, yes. They missed the OTAs so that was really hard on them. I really give credit to our coaches who did a good job with all the virtual work to get us to where we are now..."
"I've really liked this. I really like having them come in just to lift, just to run and just to sit in meetings and go walk-through and slow it down. So when we speed it up now they've had a chance to go through this and aren't overwhelmed...I feel really comfortable with the schedule and I think it's a great set up for us."
The mindset of getting back to football after time off:
"We want guys to play hard and play with detail but I also want it to be like Pop Warner football. I want you to go out there and play because you love it and play fast and clear-minded."
"I believe when we get on the practice field that practice is everything. Iron sharpens iron and we want to go fast. There's a level of teaching and detail that you have to go through but I want us to play really fast."
On offensive coordinator Joe Brady:
"The best thing about Joe is he's not one of those guys who says this is my way or the only way to do it. He's always thinking about the best way to do something. What I want from players and coaches is to go out and try to execute at practice, come back and say what works and what doesn't, change it and try to move on...He can trust his coaches and he does trust his coaches to coach which that's one of the biggest things I think. I want assistant coaches who are getting their players better."
Challenge of not having a preseason to look at younger and undrafted players:
"It's going to be a challenge for every team. It comes down to practice and part of it is how healthy you are and how much you can go against each other. We try to do a lot of stuff against each other so we can really see the competition brought out in everybody. I, as the head coach, have to have this shared vision with Marty (Hurney) and the staff."
"I think our commitment to special teams and practicing with the rookies earlier, we've gotten to know people at a lot higher level had we not taken those steps."
"We'll do a lot of 1v1 and 2v2 but within that, we'll try to rotate guys to give guys different opportunities. I'm a big believer in that competition. You have to see guys against other guys. We've already cut to 80...so I think we'll just mix it and try to get the young guys a chance and see what they can do versus some vets."
On Joey Slye, Joseph Charlton and JJ Jansen:
"I think they're doing a really great job. Joey is obviously a pro. He's been here. A tremendous weapon kicking the ball off. Big powerful leg. I love his process, the way he takes notes and how he critiques himself. We haven't done live bullets yet so it's hard to tell exactly where he is."
"Charlton has got a big, powerful leg. Learning how to hold, I'm really pleased with him."
"JJ Jansen, it's great to have a guy like that. Those are two young guys and Jansen is a veteran and a pro who wants to help other people so I feel good about that."
On the backup running back competition:
"I really like Mike Davis, he's a pro who's done it at a high level and has done a lot of things in this league and for us. Reggie (Bonnafon) is so versatile, Jordan (Scarlett) is a big, powerful runner-- I can't wait to see him in pads. I like that group. We brought in Trenton Cannon who is one of the best special teams players in the league. I think in that running back room there's going to be a lot of great competition the next few weeks between those guys."