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Carolina Panthers

Amaré Barno proving to be a quick study

Amare Barno

LANDOVER, Md. — For Amaré Barno, the education continues.

And as he does most things, he's learning in a hurry.

The Panthers rookie defensive end was in on a pair of key plays in Saturday's preseason win over Washington, recovering a fumble early and then setting up an interception by pressuring Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke into a bad throw.

"Just doing something I love, so keep doing it," Barno said with a big grin after his first professional game.

He's also continuing to add to his game and has one of the best teachers you can imagine.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said he'd been impressed with the way veteran Brian Burns has adopted Barno, which can only help a rookie.

"I think Amare has a really nice future. I think Amare is getting better and better," Rhule said. "I love that Brian Burns is pouring into him, investing in him, . . . This is a great first start."

Brian Burns, Amaré Barno

For Burns, it's as simple as helping a teammate, which helps his team. But Barno's unique to Burns because they share similar athletic profiles, and builds.

Both have long arms (both measuring close to 34 inches) and speed (Barno ran a 4.36-second 40 at the combine this year, while Burns was merely fast at 4.53), so many of the same lessons Burns has learned in his three NFL seasons apply fairly well.

"He's been progressing, pretty fast, honestly," Burns said. "I've seen him take the film and the coaching well. When he first came in, he was raw, his techniques were not really sharp, but he's coming along great.

"He's trying to take a lot of the same moves I do since he has the same body type and working on them. It's been showing up in camp. I tell him to trust his speed, and he got there."

Barno laughed, and acknowledged the first play was a bit of a right-place-right time situation.

"I just saw the ball and was like, I got to pick it up and score. There it is. Go," he said. "I was trying to scoop and score. I lost it a little bit, had to regain it. Just make sure we got the turnover; that's the biggest thing."

The second one came when he put his speed on display, and got around the edge to rush Heinicke into a bad throw that wobbled into the arms of cornerback Duke Dawson. He said that one was a matter of "just use speed, and get around the edge."

It sounds simple when he says it like that, but there's more that goes into it, and he appreciates the veteran looking after him since "mentally it's faster out there."

"Just picking up a lot from him about rush angles, being able to use my hands," Barno said. "And my long limbs, because he's got long limbs too. Using that and being able to bend, keep working on it every day.

"At this point, of course, I'm still learning, so I'm still picking up the technique. Instincts and speed help, but technique-wise, I'm still coming along."

There's an opportunity for Barno to play a role this season, if he continues to develop. While Marquis Haynes Sr. likely slots into the third defensive end role behind Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos, there's not another proven commodity on the roster at the moment alongside him.

So the chance is there for Barno, and after his first game, he's given at least some indication that he can take advantage of those chances.

"It's just about knowing what to do and executing," he said. "You've got to know what to do. Just stay disciplined and going back to knowing what to do.

"Being out there doing it is great; it's a dream come true."

See photos of Panthers playing at FedEx Field during Saturday's preseason game against the Commanders.

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