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"Perfectionist" Brian Burns gives high effort in joint practice with Jets

Brian Burns, Aaron Rodgers

SPARTANBURG – To put it simply, Brian Burns was in his element during the Panthers' first joint practice against the Jets.

And Wednesday, after turning on his signature spin move against first-round pick Mekhi Becton in drills and applying pressure Aaron Rodgers' way (without contact, of course) in team periods, Burns admitted he wouldn't be making those kinds of plays if he hadn't been running at full-go throughout training camp.

After reporting to Wofford's campus weeks ago, Burns said getting here was “bigger than” that contract uncertainty. But he has done more than just show up. He's shown out.

"I got a season to prepare for, so me sitting now or not being here wouldn't do me or the team any good," Burns said. "Like I said, I've got big things to accomplish, and I believe in this team. And I'm a big piece of that, so I can't miss. I've got things I want to do, so me sitting out – I'd be a lot worse than what you see today if I wasn't here." 

What the Jets saw today was the kind of player who's earned his reputation as a top edge rusher – so much so that New York defensive lineman Solomon Thomas (a former third-overall pick) stuck around after practice to learn some of Burns' spin move tips.

Getting to use his moves on a different team just added another level of pride to the day.

"It's pretty nice to work the moves you've been working on this offseason, this training camp, on somebody new that hasn't seen them," Burns said. "It's pretty satisfying when it works. Those are my game-time reps for real. Yeah, it was dope."

And in going against a veteran like Rodgers during joint practice, Burns got reps against one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league, a player who knows how to make plays happen and how to avoid pressure my moving around in the pocket.

"A Rod is A Rod; he's going to make his plays," Burns said. "Veteran quarterback, he knows how to disguise things. He knows how to figure out defenses and whatnot. He got me a couple of times on play-actions, like he's good at it. He's good at what he does, so having that is good. He keeps you honest."

Taking on a leadership role in the Panthers' outside linebacker room, Burns said he was interested in his group's focus level during joint practice.

Between going against another team, playing in front of the largest crowd of this year's camp, and noticing the extra cameras around from NFL Films as they capture the Jets for the latest season of Hard Knocks, Burns wanted to see that group keep their composure and remember the details.

He saw that for the most part, as any skirmishes were kept cool by coaches and players before they heated up.

"Focused, everybody focused to their job, focused on details; I feel like we did that for sure," he said. "All in all, being a pro. I feel like we handled ourselves very well out there. Wasn't too many fights, so I feel like we handled ourselves pretty well. And we had an all-around good practice." 

It was a strong day of camp for Burns, and the defense had some highlights too. The unit stopped the Jets' offense in a two-minute drill, forcing a punt after applying more pressure to Rodgers toward the end of a team period. 

But generally positive practice aside, he left the practice field knowing it wasn't a flawless day. There's more to work on, more to come, and that's what he focuses on. 

That room to grow, and belief in their potential on defense, is also part of why Burns has been at camp the whole time, going full speed ahead in each practice. 

"I believe in staying even-keeled," Burns said. "Obviously, it was a good day for us. But we still have to go on the tape and figure out those last phases they had, those busted coverages or whatever, whatever we had that we messed up on, we've got to go figure that out and become more dominant. 

"And that's just the perfectionist in me. Because I really believe in this defense, and I think that we won't have any weak points, to be honest."

Brian Burns

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