4 positive Panthers storylines at the midseason point in 2020

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

The evolution of Brian Burns

There were some lofty expectations on the shoulders of Brian Burns heading into the season. The defensive end went from a primary rotational pass-rusher to the team’s No. 1 option following a host of veteran departures and it is clear he has thrived with this extra responsibility.

The Carolina Panthers might have some deficiencies on defense, but they have a real gem on their hands in Burns. He has worked exceptionally hard on developing facets of his game in pursuit of becoming a three-down threat, something the former first-round pick has done well.

It’s hard to gauge just how much of a mess the Panthers’ defensive front would be if it wasn’t for Burns. They aren’t getting much in the way of consistent pressure outside of the Florida State product, which makes him an indispensable member of the roster despite his tender age.

Burns has three sacks, 31 combined tackles, 19 solo tackles, three forced fumbles, eight quarterback hits, two passes defended, and 18 pressures through eight weeks. This has resulted in the player becoming one of the best young edge rushers in the NFL and this is further reflected by his outstanding 84.6 grade from Pro Football Focus.

The evolution of Burns has been a joy to behold this season. If Carolina can get a couple more quality pieces around him during another critical offseason period in 2021, then it might see him reach even greater heights in year three.