Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly will be “old man” in new era of youth

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /

The Carolina Panthers linebacker will have some younger teammates to work with.

The Carolina Panthers have many talented players on the defensive side of the football. That was the case last year, and it is equally the case this year. However, the defense will look a little bit different in the fall. With the departures of defensive end Julius Peppers and linebacker Thomas Davis, the absence of those two will make the field feel a little bit different on Sundays.

However, there will be one constant that will bridge the gap between the old guard and the new youth movement. Linebacker Luke Kuechly will be the guy to do so. Now in his eighth year, Kuechly will be the elder statesman on a defense that now includes the likes of former Florida State defensive end Brian Burns and former Alabama linebacker Christian Miller. Both Burns and Miller are the perfect exemplification of the new-age National Football League.

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Although Miller may be a bit more versatile than Burns, they both possess speed. Miller is the classic hybrid linebacker that many teams are employing these days, while Burns is set to instill fear in the heart of every opposing quarterback he faces this season. His speed and ability to get to the edge are a little bit different than what Kuechly is used to playing with. Peppers was a player that could bully offensive lineman and simply overpower them. Although Peppers had speed in his younger years, that was not the same player that Kuechly was used to playing with. Instead, he was a grizzled veteran that was finishing up a career with great dignity and class.

The same could be said for Thomas as well. He was a tremendous linebacker in his younger days, and even put up a stellar amount of production towards the end of his time with the Carolina Panthers. However, by the time Kuechly came to Charlotte, even Davis was towards the latter stages of his career. Nevertheless, from 2012-2016, Davis would record at least 100 tackles in every year he played. He was an accomplished veteran who gave it his all every time he stepped on the football field.

Now, Kuechly will be working with two youngsters who are on the cusp of doing great things. It will be quite a contrast from the established veterans he is used to working with. It will hopefully be a welcome challenge, as he will get to mentor players who are just starting their careers. Nevertheless, their talent is undeniable. So far,  youth has been well-represented as the Carolina Panthers continue with OTAs.

"“We’ve been off to a good start to the first week and day of our OTA sessions,” said Kuechly, who noted both his team’s newfound speed off the edge as well as the ball production of the defensive backfield. “It’s always fun to have new guys out there. The young guys are always looking to learn, and old guys that have been around are always looking to get better. It’s been fun. I think we’re off to a good start.”"

I am excited. A new era of Carolina Panthers football is here. Last year, it was a new era due to new ownership coming in. This year, it is a new era as the defensive side of the football got a major overhaul in the offseason. I can’t wait to see what the Panthers are able to do with this new group. One thing is for certain: Luke Kuechly will be leading the way as he has for many years.