Dan Connor is adjusting to life at a rapid pace since the Carolina Panthers selected him in the third round of this past April's NFL draft.
Not only is his role on the field changing, but his bank account looks a little different as well.
Connor officially became a Panther when he signed a four-year, $2.49 million contract last week. The deal includes a $789,000 signing bonus.
The former Penn State linebacker said he's not sure what he's going to do with the money yet, adding he's just glad to finally get the deal done.
"I'm happy with the deal," Connor said. "I wanted to get a contract signed before training camp and we were able to do that."
The Panthers open camp this Saturday at Wofford College in Spartansburg, S.C.
Connor's father, Jim, said he his happy for his son.
"I'm glad he got a deal finalized and can focus on the field," Jim Connor said. "This has been a dream of his for a long time, but he still needs to do a lot of work and has a long way to go."
Dan Connor said agreeing on the contract and getting it out of the way helped eased a little of the disappointment from falling to the third round of the draft after being projected as high as a first-round choice.
"It was a little frustrating at first, but in the long run I think it will be for the best," Dan Connor said. "I love it here. My coaches and teammates are great, they've really taught me a lot. I feel like I fit in."
Dan Connor has already gotten a taste of the NFL life after participating in Offseason Training Activities (OTAs) this summer. During those workouts, Dan Connor worked with the second team defense, something he said feels a little odd.
Unfortunately for Dan Connor, the Panthers are loaded at linebacker. He sits behind Jon Beason, last season's team-leading tackler, on the depth chart at middle linebacker. Beason, a second-year player out of Miami (Fla.), recorded 140 tackles during his rookie season and has a presumed lock on the starting slot.
The Panthers also boast linebackers Dan Morgan, Na'il Diggs and former Nittany Lion Tim Shaw.
And while there's a slight chance Dan Connor could make the move to weakside linebacker, some scouts believe he's a tad slow to play outside in the NFL. His future rests in the middle, meaning Dan Connor will most likely have to spend his rookie campaign relegated to special teams and being a backup.
"He has to earn his way on the field and he knows that," Jim Connor said. "Everyone out there is just as good or better than he is, so the work has just begun."
Dan Connor said he doesn't really mind having to play the role of understudy. His playbook is thick and he said has a lot to learn, adding he can only benefit from playing behind linebackers such as Beason.
"I'm still trying to learn the playbook," Dan Connor said. "It's a lot more complicated than I've ever seen, so I've had to study a lot, but I should be OK.
"Sure, I want to start, but these guys can give me tips and help me read plays on the field. I think it'll only help me to have come to a team with so many great linebackers."