Year after year the Carolina Panthers sport a ferocious front seven that gets after the passer and stuffs the run. 2017 was no exception, and a big reason for that was the play of their defensive ends. Carolina has a deep stable of ends who helped it find their way to 50 sacks last season, third-most in the entire league.
The leader of this bunch is 38-year-old Julius Peppers, who returned to the Panthers last season after spending four seasons in Chicago and three seasons in Green Bay.
The future Hall of Famer registered eleven sacks in his 16th season as a professional, which was tied for the team lead. Two of those sacks came against the Buccaneers, though Peppers didn’t register any against the other South teams.
The player who Peppers tied for team lead in sacks is veteran Mario Addison. Now in his eighth year as a pro, Addison has set career highs in sacks in back-to-back seasons, along with tackles and run stuffs.
Watch fellow Troy graduate Demarcus Ware rave about Addison’s technique in the video below:
Wes Horton, rookie Marquis Haynes and second-year player Bryan Cox Jr. round out this strong group of Panther defensive ends. Horton is a 28-year-old vet who has played his entire career in Carolina as a rotational player. It’s unlikely that Horton will be much more than that this season, but he’s proved to be a solid player nonetheless. Expect to see Horton finish near the top of Panther ends in snaps played this season.
Cox Jr. was added by the Panthers as an undrafted free agent last year with high hopes that he’d be a steal after showing flashes of potential with the Florida Gators.
Instead, Cox has been bogged down by injuries and the inability to find a groove. With Peppers another year older and Addison on the other end of 30, the Panthers are surely hoping they have something in Cox. Their other young option is Marquis Haynes out of Ole Miss, who the team took in the fourth round this year.