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Carolina Panthers

Edge rusher Kobe Jones "flashing" during first training camp with Carolina

Kobe Jones

SPARTANBURG – Kobe Jones felt like he set a good tone for this year's training camp on the first day of pads.

Coaches noticed it too.

Jones, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound edge rusher, recorded a tackle for loss against Chuba Hubbard last Monday on his favorite play of camp. It was something he knew coaches would be focused on before they got out to the practice fields at Wofford, and it helped him make a good first impression in his first camp at Carolina.

"I feel like that really displayed my ability to be a presence in the run game also," Jones said. "A lot of people (are) emphasizing the pass rush, but I really want to make it known that I'm a presence in the run game too. …

"That was one of the emphasis (areas) that the coaches wanted to see that day, so I was just happy to put it on film."

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Jones was added to the Panthers' practice squad late last year after making four stops across two seasons in the NFL. He went undrafted in 2021 out of Mississippi State, went through his first training camp with the Falcons and his second with the Packers, and earned his first active roster spot in Green Bay last season before signing with Carolina shortly after.

He hasn't recorded an in-game stat yet, but he has as much of an opportunity as any of the Panthers' potential edge rushers. The Panthers added veteran Justin Houston Sunday, but they're still looking for complements to Brian Burns.

Jones has made it to Bryce Young a couple of times during training camp, recording what would likely be sacks if he could make contact with the quarterback.

"That's what they asked us to do on the edge," Jones said. "We definitely have to put pressure on the quarterback; of course, in practice, we don't want to touch Bryce. So we'll see.

"I feel like a lot of those would be sacks in an actual game situation, but I'm just trying to get that muscle memory together, get that rep, and just keep that feeling of getting past those guys and putting pressure on the quarterback."

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Head coach Frank Reich said the coaching staff had taken notice of Jones throughout OTAs, looking to see if he'd continue to "flash" when they put the pads on.

He didn't let that light dim on the first day of pads.

"He was one of the guys like, 'OK, let's see,'" Reich said of Jones after the first day with pads. "You know, he's flashing in OTAs, doing a good job, and now today's the next step of putting the pads on, so (we're) looking for those guys to flash and that consistency. And he did. He made a few plays in the backfield today for sure." 

Consistency is what Jones is after, he said, and that's what he's continuing to build with each padded practice. The Panthers have had four of those now, including two back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, and Jones is looking to keep his flashes steady. 

"I really want to tie that in and make that an every-play thing," Jones said. "I want to dominate every play, just keep that supreme conditioning that allows me to dominate my technique every play."

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He's competing against many for his opportunity to be on the roster, with a position group that includes Marquis Haynes Sr., Yetur Gross-Matos, and Amaré Barno, but he said the group doesn't necessarily see it that way. 

"None of us look at it as competition within each other, but more so within ourselves," Jones said. "We're all just really competing to be the best us, and of course, those other talented guys beside us are pushing us to another degree to get that done."

An aspect of Jones' off-field life also brings joy to his teammates. He records rap music in his spare time, and even released a project to streaming services just before training camp – a seven-song album called "1st Quarter" under his first name, Kobe.

Jones said he's been recording himself for a year and that his ideas come at practice, between meetings, or just in his daily life.

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"Both (football and music are) just forms of expression," he said. "It's just how I express myself, and incorporate my upbringing, my career, and just my personal life all together, just a form of expression." 

And on the field, Jones said his intensity, awareness, understanding, and reliability are what set him apart, especially when the pads come on. 

He's the type of player who gets that extra juice when they can hit, and it's an element of his game he takes pride in while he works to make a name for himself at Carolina. 

"I definitely feel like I come alive when the pads come on," Jones said. "It's just another component of that intensity that adds up. People just craving contact – and a lot of people don't do that – so I feel like that gives you an edge automatically."

View photos from the Panthers' ninth practice of training camp in Spartanburg.

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