The broader football audience will soon realize, but Carolina Panthers fans have known how special defensive end Brian Burns is. Wait, are we calling him a defensive end? Maybe a defensive end/linebacker? Or a defensive end/outside linebacker/inside linebacker?
Well, head coach Matt Rhule won’t put any restrictions on Burns’ name, as he lauded the emerging star’s exceptional versatility when talking to reporters on Wednesday.
“I think he’s like what [Jeremy] Chinn was last year. He’s a positionless player,” Rhule said when asked what more Burns can do heading into his third season.
Last year, the Panthers used Chinn in a variety of ways, mapping out the rookie stud at nearly every spot on the defense. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Swiss Army knife chalked up snaps at both safety spots, the inside and outside corner positions, the inside and outside linebacker positions and on the defensive line.
Although Burns isn’t of the same exact mold as Chinn, his mold is a rare one nonetheless—one Rhule believes will make their plans on defense more flexible and dangerous in 2021.
“We actually have a meeting with [defensive run game coordinator] Al [Holcomb] and with [pass rush specialist] Don [Johnson]. So he’s a linebacker and a d-lineman,” Rhule noted.
“He lets us get to our three-down package without having to substitute personnel. Last year, he’d go out to the field. This year, he can play the inside backer position, and he can cover backs out of the backfield. He can slide out and be an outside backer. He can be an inside backer on the three-down. He can be a defensive end in our four-down. That gives us tremendous versatility without having to change personnel and let the defense know what we’re gonna be in.”
There’s no doubt Burns can handle such a dense workload. He possesses a unique blend of size, athleticism, instincts and move set as a defender.
So, if you’ve been following us at all here at Panthers Wire, you know we’ve been banking on a big breakout campaign for Burns all summer long. Thanks for helping the cause, Coach!
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