CHARLOTTE – There's something different about Kawann Short this year.
He laughs at that suggestion, but it's true.
The 30-year-old defensive lineman is speaking with more authority. There's more weight behind his words.
"I would totally agree with that," said defensive coordinator Eric Washington, who has coached Short since he was drafted in the second round in 2013. "He needs to; we need him to. KK is highly intelligent and highly accomplished. He's a sincere person and we need to pull every inch of what he can do to the forefront – for his benefit and the benefit of the guys playing with him."
Teammates respect Short and he knows it. The was reaffirmed when Short was voted a team captain for the first time on Friday.
"I wasn't expecting it, but I see the type of impact I can have," Short said. "If I was named captain or not, I was still going to be the same KK."
The Panthers lost two defensive captains when Julius Peppers retired and Thomas Davis moved out west to play for the Chargers.
That left a leadership void and Short, who has 71 starts and 32.5 sacks on his resume, has tried to fill it.
"I've stepped into that role," Short admitted. "Now being in Year Seven, I've been through a lot of ups and downs around here. I'm trying to be more vocal with the defensive line and just the defense period. But I think it's important for all of us to have a voice."
Washington has seen a different side of Short throughout the offseason and preseason. And he likes what he sees – and hears.
"He's good at it. He's effective in that leadership role," Washington said. "I'm very proud of him and very proud of the pro and man that he is on a daily basis."
And Short is proud to wear the "C" in 2019.
"It means a lot," he said, "to have that on my uniform."