Panthers: 4 reasons to be optimistic ahead of training camp

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Robby Anderson
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Robby Anderson /
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Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brian Burns /

Panthers Reason No. 1: The defensive front

Some serious questions need to be answered on the back end of the Carolina Panthers’ defense. But their defensive front promises to be an area of real strength.

The decision-makers brought in some tremendously gifted players to complement those already on the roster. And if they can gel as a unit at the earliest possible opportunity. It is going to do their chances of success in 2020 the world of good.

Big things are expected of second-year player Brian Burns next time around after a rookie campaign that was littered with promise. The defensive end managed to secure 7.5 sacks despite being on the field for 42 percent of the team’s snaps on defense. If he can make further strides with more time on the field, the sky is the limit for the former first-round pick.

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Lining up opposite Burns will be free-agent signing Stephen Weatherly, who is another that could reach new heights in a starting role. The accomplished rusher player superbly on a rotational basis for the Minnesota Vikings. And this was enough for Carolina to give him a two-year, $12.5 million deal in free agency.

The unit also has the benefit of two dominant interior figures that could completely transform their fortunes. The Panthers were dismal at stopping the run in 2019. But that is set to change next season thanks to No. 7 overall pick Derrick Brown and returning veteran Kawann Short.

Brown comes into the NFL with a reputation as being one of the biggest disruptive forces in the college game. Short is coming off a torn rotator cuff injury that ended his 2019 season early. And it is hard to see how the tandem cannot thrive together.

Add to this the likes of Zach Kerr, second-round selection Yetur Gross-Matos, Efe Obada, Marquis Haynes, Christian Miller, and sixth-rounder Bravvion Roy. And the Panthers have plenty of cause for encouragement regarding this area of the field.