Catching Up with DE Wes Horton


The four-way battle for the starting spot at defensive end opposite Charles Johnson has gained plenty of attention so far at training camp, but last year's starter has not. caught up with Wes Horton to discuss the competition with Mario Addison, Frank Alexander and Kony Ealy.

"I think it's great. There are a handful of guys fighting for a starting spot and who is going to be the first guy off the bench. There are all kinds of openings to leverage yourself into playing time, and the biggest thing is just taking advantage of your reps."

It seems like Ealy (a second-round draft pick in 2014), Alexander (returning after playing just one game in 2014) and Addison are more often mentioned, yet you started 15 games last season. Do you feel like a forgotten man?

"Not at all. All of us have a very important role on the defensive line, and we have the type of scheme where the starters don't just play all the time – everyone plays. People might have that perception of me, but at the end of the day, I'm still on the field and still have an opportunity to make plays.

"Last year I was asked to do a lot of the dirty work, and sometimes that gets overshadowed a little bit by the guys that are out there on third down. But I'm fighting for my time on third down just like the other guys. I'm just going to do everything I can to get out there."

What parts of your game are you working on?

"My rush fundamentals, putting my hand combinations together and feeling when a guy is being passive, when he is being aggressive, and coming with quick hands and with a low rush angle. I have those fundamentals, but it's a matter of being consistent with them. I can't show flashes where one down I beat a guy and another down I get locked down."

You joined the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and beat the odds to make the roster. What do you remember about that?

"They told me from the get-go that I had an opportunity to make this team – maybe not as good as a fourth or- fifth-rounder – but they told me I had a shot to make it. It was up to me.

"If you put it on tape, they can trust you, and I think they felt after that training camp period that they could trust me and use me regardless of me being a rookie and a free agent. Also, being able to play inside on third downs, that also added a little value."

What's your advice for this year's undrafted rookies?

"Don't look at where you are on the depth chart. Just take advantage of those reps, and preseason games are very important. Practice is one thing for building technique and fundamentals, but they want to see if you can do it against live competition when the guy in front of you is trying to make his team just like you are. If you can get it done in preseason games and stay healthy, you'll have a great opportunity to make the team."

Related Content