|Brian Burns settles in as a playmaker with improved Panthers defense|
|Rookie DE draws raves for development|
|Published Sunday, October 6, 2019 5:57 pm|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Brian Burns scored his first NFL touchdown on a 56-yard return of a fumble recovery to go with a sack and three tackles in Carolina's 34-27 win against Jacksonville Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.|
Brian Burns is at home in the NFL.
The Carolina Panthers rookie defensive end scored his first professional touchdown on a 56-yard fumble recovery and return as well as his first win at home in their 34-27 victory over Jacksonville to improve to 3-2 overall. Carolina’s first-round draft pick also finished the day with a sack and three tackles.
“I feel like I’m holding my own, doing what I should do in this league,” Burns said. “Right now I’m just trying to get better and learn as much as I can from the older guys, taking everything they say into consideration, all the criticism, everything they can give me.”
Mario Addison’s strip sack of Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew knocked the ball loose for Burns to scoop up for the score. Addison, who is in a contract year, leads the team with 6.5 sacks, followed by Burns with 3.5 sacks.
“He at home,” Addison said. “He fits in. He’s still got a long way to grow. He’s going to be the guy.”
Addison used words like “phenomenal,” “amazing,” and “special” to describe Burns. More importantly, the Panthers need his abilities as an edge rusher.
“We need the juice that he brings,” Addison said. “He’s very coachable. When he’s coming off the edge, Brian is coming off the edge, and we love to play with him.”
Said coach Ron Rivera: “[Burns is] really growing into his position. He’s got a good group of guys around him too that he feeds off of like Mario and Bruce [Irvin] and the big guys up front. Those guys are doing a heck of a job pushing. He’s going to grow into something special. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s going to contribute, and he’s going to continue to contribute for us.”
Crucial to Burns’ development is Irvin, a veteran defensive end/linebacker also known as “Big Bro.” Burns started in place of Irvin in the first two games due to a hamstring injury. However, Irvin was first to celebrate with Burns after the rookie scored.
“That’s Big Bro,” Burns said. “It feels just having their support, knowing that I’m proving myself in this league, and I’m proving myself to them so that they can trust me. That means everything. Having him to be the first one to hit me in my back, it was a great feeling.”
The Panthers acquired Irvin through free agency in March. Irvin has produced at least 5.5 sacks per season over the last five seasons, and helped Addison adapt to Rivera’s implementation of the 3-4 scheme.
“When you really watch the way [Addison] works that group of guys are learning to use each other and work with each other,” Rivera said. “It’s just learning and understanding who you’re lining up next to, and really there’s a lot of unsaid communication that just shows you, when you work together, and you work as hard as they do together, they’re going to continue to create those things. It was a lot of fun to watch today, and see the things that happen.”
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