Panthers’ top draft pick shifts to Peppers’ side of line
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó Everette Brown’s switch to the right side midway through Tuesday’s workout was part of a larger decision to test the versatility of Carolina’s defensive ends.
Yet it was hard to not realize the significance of the moment: Brown was playing Julius Peppers’ position.
With Peppers still a no-show, his agent not talking and his future with the team uncertain, Brown might eventually find a home at right defensive end.
“Through college probably 90 percent of my plays were on the right side,” Brown said when asked about defensive line coach Brian Baker’s decision to shift all ends to the other side. “I wasn’t a stranger to it.”
While Brown has been getting most of his reps with the second-team defense, it’s clear the Panthers have a lot riding on the former Florida State star’s quick ascension.
Carolina thought so highly of the ACC’s leader in sacks last season it traded its 2010 first-round pick to San Francisco for the 49ers’ second-round choice. After not making a trade involving Peppers, the Panthers took Brown with the 43rd pick.
While coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney remain confident Peppers will show up for training camp, agent Carl Carey has made no such statement. Peppers is apparently working out in Arizona.
That means Brown, who left school after his junior season, may be counted on to play a major role in 2009. For now Tyler Brayton has kept his starting job at left defensive end and third-year pro Charles Johnson has been playing in Peppers’ spot, but Brown is impressing his teammates.
“He’s a real good player,” said right tackle Jeff Otah, who has been matched against Brown when he’s played left defensive end. “He’s got real good quickness and he has that strength that it doesn’t look like he has.”
At just 6-foot-1 and 256 pounds, Brown is small for a defensive end. But new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks’ system depends on speed and quickness, which Brown hopes to use as he regularly faces players at least 50 pounds heavier and four inches taller.
“The biggest adjustment has just been technique ó working on hand placement,” Brown said. “And the key thing is to keep offensive linemen off of you. Just the repetition of hand drills and playing with good leverage.”
Brown has plenty to learn on stopping the run. He’ll also have to read offensive schemes better, and he acknowledged that “some of the things I did in college don’t work here.”
But if Peppers fails to report to training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., on Aug. 2, Brown may have to take a quick crash course in the preseason ó and stay on the right side.
“Talking to the vets, one thing they tell me is that the speed will pick up,” Brown said. “You anticipate that once the pads come on. I’m looking forward to getting to Spartanburg and getting after it.”
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