|Mix of defensive schemes suit Panthers' Mario Addison|
|Addition of 3-4 an opportunity to make plays|
|Published Wednesday, May 29, 2019 10:57 am|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) shed weight to fit better in a 3-4 scheme as the team mixes formations in 2019.|
A change in defensive formation suits Mario Addison.
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is implementing more 3-4 instead of strictly a 4-3 defensive front, which for the veteran edge rusher and entire line presents “opportunities” – a word often used during organized team activities.
“Going from a 4-3, we mainly rush,” Addison said. “We rush to the edge—rush, rush, rush, rush, but playing it from depth [in a 3-4], being able to stand up. I like the standup part, because you can see the play unfold real quick and you can check the backfield out, so you’ve got more vision. That’s why I like the 3-4.”
Addison led the Panthers in sacks the last three seasons, producing a minimum of nine per season since 2016. The nine-year veteran ranks fourth in franchise history with 45.5 career sacks.
“We’re really just asking Mario to use his athleticism in a different fashion, a different style,” Rivera said. “He’s adapted to that very well. He’s quick off the edge of the defense. He’s an explosive player. This can add a little bit to his repertoire. I’m excited for Mario.”
Said defensive tackle Kawann Short: “It’s just better opportunities. We feel that we can execute in different schemes, and still run some plays that we had, and some new plays now. It just opened up the doors for a lot of guy. We’re just starting fresh. There’s not one guy set to play this position. We all have to compete.”
Key to revamping Rivera’s defense scheme is the addition of hybrid linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin and defensive end Brian Burns. Carolina acquired Burns in last month’s draft as their first-round selection. Irvin arrived via free agency in March from Atlanta, after joining the Falcons via trade from the Raiders in November. Irvin has produced at least 5.5 sacks per season over the last five seasons. His familiarity with the 3-4 helps Addison.
“I’m learning a lot from Bruce,” Addison said. “Bruce played in the 3-4. All the drop stuff, I’m kind of looking at everything he [does]. I learned a lot. He coaches me up when I need him to coach me up. It feels really good to have a guy who is already experienced in something you’re trying to learn. That’s a plus. I’m glad they brought Bruce in. He’s a playmaker.”
With the retirement of defensive end Julius Peppers, Carolina’s career sacks leader, Addison’s role demands leadership as one of the defense’s most experienced players.
“Just seeing him transform from when I got here six years to now, it’s a totally different guy,” Short said. “Just seeing what it takes for him to elevate his level of play, it’s impressive.”
Said Addison: “I was taking on a leadership role, even when Peppers was here, but now since I am the oldest end here, I’m really taking it on now.”
Addison intends to be lighter this season in order to be quicker and more explosive off the ball.
“Ideal weight for me is 255 pounds vs. 262,” Addison said. “I dropped a good 7 pounds.”
Said Rivera: “We’ve talked about what an ideal weight would be for these guys. We’re kind of feeling our way through it with each guy. As we get into training camp, and start going into preseason games, we’ll get a much better sense for where everybody is.”
Paying attention to what he eats allowed Addison to reach his weight goal, but he does have one cheat meal.
“I really just ate better,” he said. “I cheat every weekend. I eat good all through the week, and I cheat for a day.”
That means a double-cheeseburger from American Burger Company.
“I really ain’t cheating,” Addison insists, “because I eat it without the bun.”
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