CHARLOTTE – In his first two years, defensive tackle Kawann Short was a solid contributor with five career sacks and a boatload of potential.
In 2015, Short realized that potential. He led all NFL defensive tackles with 11 sacks and earned his first Pro Bowl nomination. He was also a second-team All-Pro selection.
After such a dominant campaign, Short has become one of Carolina's cornerstone pieces, and teammates will rightly follow his lead.
"I'll lead by example. I'm not a guy that says too much," Short said. "I'll do what I need to do and put all my work out there on the field. Guys will see me working, and hopefully they'll do the same."
Short's work has led to speculation that he'll soon be rewarded with a long-term contract extension. But that's not something he's thinking about.
"If it happens, it happens, but we haven't focused on that," Short said. "I've still got a lot I need to do. I've put myself in the position, but at the same time, I'm not where I want to be. We're not rushing the issue."
A second-round pick from Purdue in 2013, Short has developed into one of the league's most feared interior pass-rushers.
The Panthers and Short hope rookie defensive tackle Vernon Butler enjoys a similarly effective developmental process. It's early, but so far Short likes what he's seen from the first-rounder.
"Good guy. I talked to him a little bit, and just seeing him out here for individuals, the guy reminds me of myself," Short said. "He's trying to get the steps and concepts down pat, but this guy has got a bigger (first) step than me in my first year. Just seeing the way he's working – it's only right that he's going to be one of those dominant players."
View photos from the first week of Carolina's organized team activities.