Pan­thers DE Addison ready to ad­just to new 3-4 de­fense

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY SCOTT FOWLER [email protected]­lot­teob­

Cam Newton long ago chris­tened Carolina Pan­thers team­mate Mario Addison “Su­per Mario,” ow­ing to what the quar­ter­back called the de­fen­sive end’s abil­ity to be­come an “edge night­mare.”

But Addison wasn’t su­per in the sec­ond half of the 2018 sea­son. Nor was the Pan­thers de­fense in gen­eral, nor the pass rush in par­tic­u­lar.

Al­though Addison had a team-high nine sacks, only 1.5 of them came in the sec­ond half of the year, when Carolina crum­bled. The Pan­thers went 1-7 over their fi­nal eight games and fin­ished the sea­son rank­ing a dis­ap­point­ing 27th in the NFL in sacks.

“We’ve got a stan­dard, and we didn’t meet it last year,” Addison said af­ter a re­cent Pan­thers prac­tice. “It was sad that we had all the guys to do, it but we didn’t get the job done. But I can tell you this year — whew, we’ve got guys fly­ing each and ev­ery way! And it’s go­ing to be some­thing spe­cial to watch.”

Addison is headed into a con­tract year where, he said, he plans to “ball out.” Un­less he gets an early con­tract ex­ten­sion, he will be 32 by the time he signs his next deal in 2020. And so for the af­fa­ble end with a beard that ri­vals NBA star James Harden, 2019 is im­por­tant for sev­eral rea­sons.

“I’ve still got a lot of life in me,” Addison promised.


Since Julius Peppers’ re­tire­ment, Addison ranks as the old­est edge rusher in the Pan­thers employ. Addison, who has at least tied for the team lead in

sacks for each of the past three years, also is learn­ing some new tricks in 2019 by ne­ces­sity.

Carolina is switch­ing to a hy­brid scheme that sounds like it will put the team in a 3-4 de­fen­sive front at least as of­ten as the for­merly stan­dard 4-3. Who does that help? “The smaller guys,” Addison said, speak­ing of his own po­si­tion group and point­ing to play­ers like 2019 first-round draft pick Brian Burns (listed at 250 pounds) and oth­ers. “When we’re do­ing all the drop­ping (to cover pass routes) and stuff, you don’t want to be heavy like the typ­i­cal end – 270-275 (pounds). That’s not a good fit… But when you got mo­bile guys like my­self who can move around, that ben­e­fits all of us.”

Addison played at 262 pounds this past sea­son. But he now weighs 255 due to bet­ter eat­ing habits, he said, and plans to stay there in 2019. Even his oc­ca­sional culi­nary splurge – a dou­ble cheese­burger at Amer­i­can Burger Com­pany – is served with­out the bun at his re­quest.

A 3-4 de­fense works in part by fool­ing the of­fen­sive line­men, who aren’t quite sure who is rush­ing and who is drop­ping in pass sit­u­a­tions. In a 4-3, on the other hand, Addison said his job was to “rush-rushrush-rush-rush.”


Addison said he has got­ten “coached up” on the 3-4 scheme not just from his coaches, but also from new Pan­ther de­fen­sive end Bruce Irvin.

“Bruce has played in the 3-4,” Addison said. “So all the drop stuff – I’m look­ing at him.”

Addison has al­ways had dy­namic ath­leti­cism. He clinched the Dal­las win last sea­son with a sack and had three more against Tampa Bay in an­other vic­tory. The play I re­mem­ber him most for, though, is in the Su­per Bowl fol­low­ing the 2015 sea­son when he chased down a fleet Den­ver punt re­turner 60 yards down­field to save a touch­down.

Now, the Pan­thers want Addison to use his ath­leti­cism “in a dif­fer­ent fash­ion,” said coach Ron Rivera. “I re­ally think he’s adapted to that very well. He’s quick off the edge. He’s an ex­plo­sive player, and I think this can add a lit­tle to his reper­toire.”

Does that mean Addison will add an in­ter­cep­tion to his ca­reer to­tals? Since en­ter­ing the NFL as an un­drafted free agent out of Troy in 2011, he’s never had one.

“This year, man,” he said jok­ingly, “I’m bank­ing on about 4-5 in­ter­cep­tions. I’m go­ing to take three back (for touch­downs).”

If he does that, he should splurge with a dou­ble cheese­burger. And this time, add the bun.

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­

Since the re­tire­ment of Julius Peppers (right) fol­low­ing the 2018 sea­son, Mario Addison has be­come the el­der states­men of the de­fen­sive ends. At 31, he is two months older than new de­fen­sive end Bruce Irvin, who has been giv­ing Addison some tips on how to play the 3-4 scheme ef­fec­tively.

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­

Pan­thers de­fen­sive end Mario Addison had three sacks against Tampa Bay in Novem­ber.

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