CHARLOTTE – Brian Burns patiently sat in his seat, watching film for three hours without batting an eye.
“Most people aren’t used to that,” Burns said. “And if you doze off, you’re not going to get it.”
You probably thought the Panthers’ first-round pick was talking about game film, but in actuality the Spider-Man aficionado was talking about a different kind of game – the blockbuster movie “Avengers: Endgame.”
Burns was able to follow that winding plot, and the Panthers’ first-round draft choice has successfully stayed on script at rookie minicamp so far.
Not to say there isn’t a learning curve.
“Ninety-minute meetings. I was like, ‘Geez, that’s a long time,’ ” said Burns, who said the meetings were much shorter at Florida State. “Football is football, but being a pro is the things you do off the field as far as taking care of your body, getting into your playbook more, watching film and learning from the vets.”
This weekend, Burns is leaning on someone in his same shoes when it comes to learning the ropes.
“Me and Brian have been sticking together,” said Christian Miller, the Panthers’ fourth-round draft pick. “We’re both outside linebackers, and we respect each other’s games. He’s a really good dude.
“We’ve been working together, making sure we’re in good hands. Just trying to help each other out.”
Miller and Burns have much in common.
They both played at traditional college football powerhouses (Miller played at Alabama), and they both have NFL bloodlines. Miller’s father, Corey Miller, was an NFL linebacker for nine seasons; Burns’ brother, Stanley McClover, played defensive end for the Panthers for two years.
Along those same lines – and at least as importantly – they both have linebacker and defensive end in their position designation. So while they both have a lot to learn about the pro game, they’re arguably ahead of the curve as the Panthers transition from their traditional 4-3 defensive look to a more multiple approach.
“It’s nothing I’m not used to; I’ve done it before,” Burns said. “No big deal, but I like what we’re doing.”
Miller called himself “extremely comfortable” with moving around into different defensive roles.
“I did it a lot in college. It feels very familiar,” Miller said. “I think I was drafted for my pass rush ability, but also because of my versatility. I feel comfortable doing either/or, and that’s the luxury of a defense like this.”
In 26 games played between them in 2018, Burns and Miller totaled 18.5 sacks. That was while doing Miller called an “internship” for the pro football journey they’re now beginning.
“It’s a dream I’m sure for everybody out here,” Miller said. “There are so many people who would love to have this opportunity, so you’ve got to be thankful and enjoy it. We get to play our favorite game for a living; there’s nothing better than that. It just felt really good to get out there.”
View all the photos from the rainy practice session to kick off the 2019 rookie minicamp in Charlotte.