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Carolina Panthers

Brian Burns continues to add to pass-rush education

Matthew Judon, Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Brian Burns had just gone through a two-hour practice, which was notable for its intensity.

And then he went to school.

The Panthers defensive end spent about 30 minutes after practice Tuesday with Patriots outside linebacker Matthew Judon, just a couple of dudes who had a combined 21.5 sacks last year, talking the finer points of their craft. You could see them working through moves, hand placement, and footwork, with defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos there as well to take it in from both of them.

"Pretty much just picking his brain about rushing and how he approaches it," Burns said Tuesday afternoon's time with Judon. "He's had a lot of success in this league, has been doing it for a long time, so just picking his brain.

"The more knowledge you know, . . ."

The 30-year-old Judon had 12.5 sacks last year and has 47.0 in six NFL seasons. As an outside linebacker in a 3-4, his technique is going to be different than what Burns is using on a daily basis. That doesn't matter to Burns, who takes in everything as he works to add tools to his toolbox.

"Judon's good at a lot of things," Burns said with a nod. "He has elite bend. His moves are crisp. He's very physical. And his approach to rush is a lot different than I thought."

That kind of curiosity has been a habit with Burns.

When he was at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, he spent all the time he could with Cardinals veteran Chandler Jones. He said after last weekend's game with the Commanders, he conversed with former Washington first-rounder Montez Sweat. Last year when the Panthers worked with the Colts during the preseason, Burns absorbed what he could from 6-foot-7, 295-pound defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, as he's done in the past from Bosa brothers and Maxx Crosby.

Regardless the size or shape of a defender, if he wants to talk about the game, Burns is willing to listen.

"Anybody I've played against, after the game or whatever," he said. "I even talked to a couple of tackles about pass-rushing, and how they do things.

"I'll do it with anybody. I'll talk pass-rush with anybody. I can pick through what I want, and what I don't."

Burns has emerged as a leader for the Panthers going into his fourth season, and that eagerness to learn has been one of his hallmarks so far, which Panthers head coach Matt Rhule mentioned during training camp.

"I think the biggest thing is we can challenge him," Rhule said. "It's easy to say what should be done. One of the best things you can do as a leader is to be vulnerable and allow other people to correct you. Brian has been coachable.

"I think when young players see your best players be humble enough to get coached while being confident to attack on the field that sends a good message. Brian is a leader in that."

And that's not limited to his work in Panthers camp. When he's out among his peers, Burns continues to work on his game, long after practice ends.

View photos from Tuesday's practice with the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

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