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Matt Ioannidis treating this like another rookie year

Matt Ioannidis

CHARLOTTE — When Panthers head coach Matt Rhule was asked to share his thoughts on where he felt the Panthers stood at the end of minicamp, he made particular mention of a few players across multiple positions — including the experience they added on defense.

Among the names Rhule listed was Matt Ioannidis , a seventh-year defensive tackle who spent the first six seasons of his career in Washington before signing a one-year deal with Carolina.

Even though he stands out at a young position, Ioannidis admitted he has chosen to take a page out of his rookie handbook while getting adjusted to his first move in the league.

"My approach to it so far has been ears open, mouth shut," Ioannidis said. "A lot of things we say — be seen, not heard as a rookie — that's kind of where I've been in these first few weeks."

That's temporary for now, at least, and Ioannidis said he has plenty of time to become more vocal.

First, Ioannidis wants to learn the ropes here and get comfortable. So he said he's taking it one task, assignment, and install at a time. The good news for Ioannidis is he has a history with Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow, who coached him at Temple, so he knows the expectations.

"The competitiveness that was there is still very much there," Ioannidis said. "Being thrust back into that style of environment, his style of competitiveness has been fun."

Ioannidis spent six years with Washington and saw his two best seasons in 2018 and 2019, when he tallied 16.0 combined sacks and 27 quarterback hits while starting in 24 of 30 games across those two years.

His production went down in his last two seasons with Washington (just 4.0 sacks) as he dealt with some injuries, though he said he wanted to take responsibility for how he played while rehabbing.

Matt Ioannidis

Now, he's ready to make an impact with the Panthers in his new start, and they need his kind of pass-rush as they adjust on defense. With Haason Reddick leaving in free agency, they're trying to create pressure differently this year, and having his ability inside should help.

"I'm in control of what the season's going to look like for me," he said. "I feel like I'm on par to still play some really great ball."

Replacing DaQuan Jones, Ioannidis' addition adds both experience and more pass rush potential with tackle Derrick Brown , a third-year player Ioannidis said he's looking forward to playing alongside.

"Hopefully, I can teach (Brown) some things, he can teach me some things, and we'll have some really good chemistry out there," Ioannidis said.

While Ioannidis is getting acclimated to his new teammates and learning the playbook, Rhule listed him along with fellow league veterans Shaq Thompson, Johnny Hekker, and JJ Jansen as experienced players he hopes younger ones model their habits after.

"(There are) a lot of veterans here that take care of themselves at a high level," Rhule said. "There's no excuse for not taking care of yourself because you can see how to do it."

Ioannidis officially signed with the Panthers on Monday at Bank of America Stadium.

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