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Brian Burns named starter for 2023 Pro Bowl


CHARLOTTE — Sometimes, it's hard to remember that Brian Burns is still just 24 years old. And he's still getting better.

And now, he's cementing his place among the league's top pass-rushers.

Burns was named a starter to the 2023 Pro Bowl on Wednesday, the team's lone starter named to the league's all-star game.

It's transitioning from an exhibition game to a skills contest and flag football event this year, but in his fourth season, Burns is proving he should be able to get to some flags.

Burns is fourth in the NFC and 10th in the NFL in sacks with 10.5 this year. That total is fourth among all defensive ends (behind Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, and Maxx Crosby).

And in the context of a franchise that has had some top pass-rushers, he's standing out as well.

He's played in 62 career games so far and has 36.0 career sacks. The only player in franchise history with more is Julius Peppers, who had 42.5 from 2002-06, and ranks fourth on the NFL's all-time sack list with 159.5 career sacks.

This is the second straight Pro Bowl nod for Burns after making last year's game in Las Vegas.

Punter Johnny Hekker was named the first alternate at punter after a successful first season here.

He's fourth in the NFL in net punting average, and his 30 punts inside the 20 are tied for the league lead.

Six other Panthers players earned recognition as alternates, with special teamer Sam Franklin Jr. and long snapper JJ Jansen named second alternates, cornerback Jaycee Horn a third alternate, center Bradley Bozeman and safety Jeremy Chinn fourth alternates, and linebacker Shaq Thompson a fifth alternate.

Brian Burns ranks sixth in franchise history with 36.0 career sacks, and is six away from Hall of Famer Kevin Greene for fifth on that list (41.5).

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