5 individual battles to watch during Panthers scrimmages at Colts

(Alex Hicks Jr./Spartanburg Herald-Journal via IMAGN Content Services) Sam Darnold
(Alex Hicks Jr./Spartanburg Herald-Journal via IMAGN Content Services) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns vs. Braden Smith

This will be a battle to monitor closely.

Brian Burns is set for a big test during scrimmages at the Indianapolis Colts in the form of Braden Smith, who performed to a high standard in 2020 and has firmly locked down the right tackle position with the franchise.

The Carolina Panthers are expecting Burns to set the tone next season. His progression as a sophomore was incredibly pleasing and considering the improved firepower around the 2019 first-round pick, a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign is well within his capabilities.

It will be interesting to see how he fares against Smith, who didn’t give up a sack and conceded just three penalties from 937 snaps last season on his way to an impressive 80.1 grade from Pro Football Focus.

No matter how good the opposition is in front of him, Burns should feel confident in his abilities.

There are few defensive ends operating league-wide that boast the same sort of explosiveness and the addition of Haason Reddick coming off the other edge gives the Panthers are formidable duo they can build around.

If Burns can get the better of this individual test against Smith, it’s yet another huge confidence boost ahead of the 2021 season as the Florida State product looks to propel himself into the truly elite category when it comes to edge rushers.