Tall task for Ari­zona is stop­ping Short

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Steve Reed

char­lotte, n.c.» Josh No­man has some ad­vice for Car­son Palmer if he sees Carolina Pan­thers de­fen­sive tackle Kawann “KK” Short head­ing his way Sun­day dur­ing the NFC cham­pi­onship game.

“Run,” the Pan­thers’ al­lpro cor­ner­back said with a hearty laugh. “Run, run as fast as you can, I’m the Ginger­bread Man.”

Nor­man has seen Short blossom into a dom­i­nant in­side pass rusher in just his third sea­son with the Pan­thers, pro­duc­ing 11 sacks — a fran­chise record for a de­fen­sive tackle — along with 32 quar­ter­back pres­sures.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Short car­ried that mo­men­tum into the play­offs last week­end, pres­sur­ing Seat­tle’s Rus­sell Wil­son into throw­ing a first-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion that was re­turned for a touch­down by Luke Kuechly, giv­ing Carolina an early 14-0 lead and set­ting the tone for the game. He also had a sack on Wil­son.

“That play was all KK,” Kuechly said of the pick­six play. “When you look at the play, if you re­ally break it down, it was him. He made a move on the guard and, just like that, he was on Rus­sell. I was just kind of stand­ing there and he tossed it right to me. I give KK all the credit be­cause he de­served it all.”

When gen­eral man­ager Dave Get­tle­man ar­rived at Carolina in 2013, he spent his first two draft picks on “hog mol­lies” — se­lect­ing a pair of mam­moth de­fen­sive tack­les in space eater Star Lo­tulelei in the first round, fol­lowed by the pass-rush­ing spe­cial­ist Short in the se­cond.

They have be­come fix­tures on a de­fense that has ranked in the top 10 in each of the past three sea­sons — and forced an NFL-high 39 turnovers in the 2015 reg­u­lar sea­son.

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