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Carolina Panthers like the fit of new defensive pieces and schemes
Mix of youth, experience take to hybrid set
Published Friday, August 2, 2019 10:13 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Free safety Tre Boston, who returned to the Panthers after a two-year absence, is familiar playing in the 3-4 hybrid scheme head coach Ron Rivera is implementing.

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New systems. New pieces. New season.

The Carolina Panthers created a defense that looks stellar on paper, but has yet to be tested. Coach Ron Rivera implemented a 3-4 scheme to complement their typical 4-3 set. They also added players, like first-round draft pick Brian Burns, a hybrid edge rusher/linebacker. In free agency, they acquired defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin and free safety Tre Boston, who was signed Thursday to a one-year deal for his second stint with the organization. Boston, who was drafted by Carolina in 2014 and waived in 2017, spent a season with the Los Angeles Chargers, followed by a stint in Arizona. He is tied for second among NFL safeties with eight interceptions over the last two seasons.

“Some people say it’s like I never left,” Boston said at Friday’s Fan Fest. “That means a lot to me. It means I impacted the community and the fans while I was here.”

Boston’s return also brought a number exchange with rookie running back Elijah Holyfield, who had jersey 33 but switched to 21.

“I think everybody knew what was going to happen,” Boston said. “He’s a good kid. I gave him 21—21 is not a bad number. It was pretty easy.”

Said Rivera of Boston: “He still has it. He had a couple really good reads—put himself in position there. It’s good to see Tre getting into the mix. Tre’s a pro. He understands what it takes. He got himself ready, just with that phone call.”

Carolina signed six-time Pro Bowler McCoy in June to a one-year deal after he parted ways with Tampa Bay. McCoy, who produced six-plus sacks per season since his career-high 9.5 sacks in 2013, has 54.5 career sacks.

Irvin arrived from Atlanta in March. He and Buns are their response to the retirement of defensive end Julius Peppers, a likely Hall of Fame inductee and Carolina’s career sacks leader. Irvin tallied at least 5.5 sacks per season over the last five years. Defensive end Mario Addison noted during minicamp that Irvin’s familiarity with the 3-4 will help his transition.

“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 the 3-4] …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.”

Rivera noted that he is pleased with how the defense is responding to the scheme alterations.

“We don’t have everybody out on the field right now,” Rivera said. “It’s good to see the guys working through. We’ve still got a few bugs we’ve gotta work out, but I really think the guys are getting the whole premise of the philosophy change. It was kind of exciting to see them in this type of environment.”

Said Boston: “When I went to the Chargers, we played a modified 4-3, 3-4. I’ve played what they want to play, and I’ve been in this defense before. For me, it was natural. That’s why I was able to play fast today.”

Linebacker Luke Kuechly participated in individual, but not team drills and did not practice Thursday as a precautionary measure after taking a blow in a 9-on-7 drill in Spartanburg on July 31. Kuechly, who has a history with concussions in recent years, wanted to return, but Rivera said it did not “make sense on an overly hot day to put a guy back in.”

“Luke is practicing, and we’ll have him out there, just like he’s supposed to be,” Rivera said. “There is no issue with it—just an abundance of being careful.”

Gerald McCoy’s veteran day coincided with Fan Fest, and he did not practice.



I'm glad my boy is back home
Posted on August 4, 2019

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