Well Vikings Elite Jerseys , it turns out that maybe Panthers four-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly may have a minor flaw in his game.
The 27-year-old Kuechly, considered one of the best players in the league at his position, said after Sunday’s practice his pass rushing ability needs to improve ”by leaps and bounds.”
And Panthers coach Ron Rivera was quick to agree.
”Yes, he does” need to improve, Rivera said. ”Like Cam (Newton) likes to tell you, `Superman has his Kryptonite.”’
Kuechly has been akin to Superman for the Panthers defense over the past six seasons.
He has 818 tackles and 15 interceptions during that span, and has staked his claim as the most productive middle linebacker ever to play for the Panthers -with a realistic chance to go down as one of the NFL’s all-time bests along with Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary.
Rivera has repeatedly said Kuechly is like having a coach on the field with his ability to call out an opponent’s play call to teammates before the ball is ever snapped. He’s seemingly always around the ball and his mistakes are few and far between.
Getting to the quarterback has rarely been one of Kuechly’s strengths.
He has 10 career sacks, including just one last season. By comparison, Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner – whom Kuechly is often compared to in the NFC – has 15 sacks during that same span.
Kuechly is working with new linebackers coach Steve Russ to improve his explosiveness and ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage, a skillset that could potentially elevate the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year to a whole new level.
”Coach Russ has a planned attack for (improving) that and hopefully it will translate into a game,” Kuechly said.
Kuechly joked that he has to get better at pressuring the quarterback because his longtime buddy Thomas Davis, the team’s outside linebacker, ”beats me in that (category) every year – and I have to try to get him back.”
This may be Kuechly’s year to get the best of Davis, who will start the season serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.
It’s not anything new for Kuechly to target an area to improve. For the past couple of years Kuechly spent extra energy working on his pass coverage skills, an area in which he has shown noticeable improvement.
Of course, the biggest concern for Kuechly will be avoiding another concussion. He has sustained a concussion in each of the past three seasons, causing him to miss 10 games.
The Panthers simply can’t afford to lose him.
His speed and ability to chase down ball carriers from sideline to sideline still amazes Rivera, who played linebacker for nine seasons for the Chicago Bears and won a Super Bowl in the 1985 season.
Rivera said he’s ”seen everything” from Kuechly, but pointed to a play he made last week in practice that caused the coach to pause the game film and replay it in slow motion several times. As Rivera describes it Cedric Ogbuehi Jersey , Kuechly was chasing down a ball carrier to the outside when a blocker stepped in his way to cut him off.
But that didn’t keep Kuechly from making the play though.
”The position he was in, he should have been cut off,” Rivera said. ”But he made a step in and the blocker came down with him and he jumped around him and accelerated to the outside and made the play. It’s one of those where you just sit there and go, `Wow.”’
While the focus this summer will be on improving as a pass rusher, Rivera said Kuechly remains a special player.
”He has that kind of ability and I think a big part of it is just how smart he is as a football player,” Rivera said.
— Even as he enters his fourth season, Tevin Coleman is still taking notes from Falcons teammate Devonta Freeman on all the basics that go with being an NFL running back.
How to run. How to catch. How to block.
How to make teammates smile.
In training camp, Freeman’s contagious personality may be one of his biggest strengths. His ever-present smile can be a mood-lifter during long, hot practice days.
“It’s definitely effective,” Coleman said after Saturday’s practice. “Just having him here and bringing in the energy and getting other guys motivated to compete and work hard, just his presence here lightens everybody up. I like that.”
Freeman is especially upbeat this camp. He is relishing his return to good health following a sometimes scary 2017 season.
Freeman suffered two concussions last year. He spent the last two weeks of the preseason in concussion protocol before suffering another concussion against Dallas on Nov. 12 that forced him to miss two games. A sprained right knee cut into his production late in the season.
Now Freeman, 26, is feeling good. He’s an important part of an offense that is looking to return to its form of 2016, when it led the league in scoring.
“What more can I ask for?” Freeman asked earlier this week. “My dream job is football and I get to play. I come to work and play football every day. That’s it.”
Coleman said Freeman is “happy to feel good, happy to be here with his brothers, happy to compete.”
Coach Dan Quinn says Freeman’s tough demeanor in practice shows that he loves the game, especially in training camp.
“He’s such a competitor,” Quinn said Saturday. “He has the personality among his teammates. They love him. They love what he stands for on the field, off the field, in the locker room. He is one of constant support. His makeup and mentality, based on toughness and competing Authentic Dougie Hamilton Jersey , this is his kind of environment.”
Added Quinn: “We truly celebrate guys like Free who live that lifestyle.”
Quinn immediately noticed a change in Freeman early in camp.
“It is awesome to see Free back, feeling like himself,” he said.
Freeman was one of the first players to catch the attention of Quinn, then a first-year coach, in 2015. The coach immediately talked about Freeman’s skills as a runner and receiver, and the running back’s breakout season lived up to the hype.
Freeman ranked fifth in the NFL with 1,634 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2015 and was first with 14 all-purpose touchdowns.
He added another 1,000-yard rushing season in 2016. Even while missing two games last year, he ran for 865 yards with seven touchdowns and had 36 catches for 317 yards.
Most running backs would be happy with 36 catches, but for Freeman it was a big drop from 2015, when he caught 73 passes for 578 yards.
Freeman hopes he and Coleman have more targets from quarterback Matt Ryan in the second year with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian.
“I think we’ve got enough talent to be utilized in the passing game,” he said. “We need to take advantage of that.”
NOTES: The Falcons had their fourth annual military day, welcoming soldiers from Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, and 24 families from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors who have lost a loved one in the military. “It was a great way for us to pay tribute back to them,” Quinn said. … A German TV crew, on a tour of at least eight NFL training camps, visited the Falcons and plans to return when Atlanta hosts this season’s Super Bowl. “It would be a perfect scenario if the home team could reach the Super Bowl,” said Christoph Dommisch of 7Sports. Dommisch and other members of the crew wore traditional lederhosen — shorts and suspenders.