High expectations for Panthers’ Brown
CHARLOTTE ó Sitting at 4-6, decimated by injuries and facing a brutal closing schedule, Carolina’s playoff prospects look bleak.
That only makes the scrutiny more intense for rookie defensive end Everette Brown. Because of him, the Panthers don’t have a first-round draft pick next spring.
“The move that they made during the draft was a big move,” Brown acknowledged this week.
Coming off a 12-4 season, the Panthers spent the offseason in a win-now mode. They returned all but one starter, then on draft day traded next year’s first-round pick to San Francisco for the 49ers’ second-round choice.
With the 43rd selection, Carolina took Brown, the baby-faced, ex-Florida State star who immediately became a second-round pick with first-round expectations.
“You need to realize that and know that’s how they expect you to play right away,” Panthers linebacker Jon Beason said. “He knows that.”
There was a reason Brown slipped to the second round. At 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds, he’s undersized for a conventional NFL defensive end. The Panthers liked him because new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks effectively used smaller, speedy ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in his old job in Indianapolis.
Brown’s NFL career began with him feeling worn down and weak.
“It was an issue for me,” Brown said. “People will always talk about the size difference and the size that I lacked. But for me, I didn’t feel as strong as I needed to be. I didn’t feel myself.”
Brown didn’t crack the starting lineup, then missed a Week 3 loss to Dallas with a sprained ankle. He kept working in the weight room, however, determined to become the disruptive factor the Panthers planned on when making their big gamble.
It’s worked. As many rookies face exhaustion and a drop-off in play as they participate in the longest season of their lives, Brown feels rejuvenated.
“I feel 100 percent better now than I felt the first game of the season, which is a little weird because my body never went through that before,” Brown said. “But coach says on film I look totally different, I look stronger, I look more explosive.”