Well [url=http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-d.j.-fluker-jersey]http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-d.j.-fluker-jersey[/url] , 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 鈥攚ith 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 10陆 career sacks, including just one last season. By comparison, Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner 鈥?whom Kuechly is often compared to in the NFC 鈥?has 15陆 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 [url=http://www.texanscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-martinas-rankin-jersey]Cheap Martinas Rankin Jersey[/url] , "beats me in that (category) every year 鈥?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, 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.
鈥?A rare losing season without a playoff appearance led to significant front office changes for the Green Bay Packers.A new structure is in place at the top of the front-office flow chart, and new general manager Brian Gutekunst is signaling that the Packers might be a little more aggressive in free agency.The “draft-and-develop” philosophy will still be the foundation of the way that Green Bay builds the roster [url=http://www.edmontonoilersteamshops.com/authentic-olivier-rodrigue-jersey]Olivier Rodrigue Oilers Jersey[/url] , Gutekunst said Monday at his introductory news conference at Lambeau Field.“But I do think I will lead in my own personality and probably a little bit more aggressive in certain areas,” said Gutekunst, formerly Green Bay’s player personnel director.“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned as far as every avenue of player acquisition.”Predecessor Ted Thompson is now a senior advisor following a 13-year tenure highlighted by the Super Bowl-winning 2010 season.The Packers went to four NFC title games and won six NFC North crowns under his watch.Thompson also took heat from some vocal fans for being timid in free agency, especially at a time when two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still in his prime at age 34.The defense did not improve over the past four seasons despite being stocked with high draft picks.Thompson had the titles of executive vice president, general manger & director of football operations 鈥?positions that will now be held by different executives under the structural change initiated by team president/CEO Mark Murphy.“It’s very difficult for one person to handle all of those responsibilities, so really looking at it, I decided it would be in the best long-term interests of the organization to change the structure,” said Murphy, who oversaw the GM search.Gutekunst, 44, will have complete control over roster decisions as general manager.Coach Mike McCarthy, who is under contract through 2019 after receiving a one-year extension during the season, will now report directly to Murphy. He will have the authority to hire and fire the head coach.Russ Ball, the team’s salary cap expert and chief contract negotiator [url=http://www.thepackersfootballauthentic.com/marquez-valdes-scantling-jersey-authentic]Youth Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jersey[/url] , was promoted to executive vice president/director of football operations after serving as vice president of football administration/player finance. Ball, who interviewed for the GM job, will also report directly to Murphy.Murphy said he decided to make the change during a broad re-evaluation sparked by the GM search. He hoped that lines of communication would improve in order to break down “silos” that had built up over the years.“I just felt like there were too many silos in football, whether that be coaching and personnel, the college and the pro side, and breaking down those silos” was necessary, Murphy said.Murphy is the highest-ranking administrator on a team without a traditional owner 鈥?the Packers are the NFL’s only publicly-owned franchise. In times when there might be close calls, Murphy would cast a tiebreaking vote.“But I hope it never gets to that,” Murphy said. “That’ll be the goal, is that we can work together and through good communication we’ll all be on the same page.”He has more football experience than the average team president, having played safety under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs for the Washington Redskins.Also a lawyer, Murphy had extensive experience in sports administration before becoming Packers president/CEO in 2007, including athletic director stints at Northwestern and Colgate.Entering his 20th season with the Packers, Gutekunst is also a football lifer [url=http://www.thecowboysfootballauthentic.com/mike-white-jersey-authentic]Youth Mike White Jersey[/url] , but on the personnel side. He spent the past two seasons as player personnel director. He also oversaw college scouting for four years, and worked 11 seasons as a regional college scout in the talent-rich Southeast.Gutekunst got his start in Green Bay as a scouting intern in the summer of 1997, spent most of 1998 as a scouting assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs before returning to the Packers for good when then-GM and Hall of Famer Ron Wolf hired him as a scout on Dec. 30, 1998.Gutekunst had interviewed for other GM openings in recent years. In fact, he got the call from Murphy offering him the Packers’ job while on a trip over the weekend to Houston to interview for the Texans’ vacancy.The interview with the Packers on Friday ended up being his last one.“I let Mark know on Friday that this was my dream job, that I absolutely love this place,” Gutekunst said.Interjected Murphy: “You didn’t tell your agent that.”It all worked out in the end.“I’m really glad that it came to where we are now,” said Gutekunst, as his wife and children watched from the front row of the auditorium.The Packers also interviewed director-football operations Eliot Wolf, who is the son of the former GM and friends with Gutekunst; and former Buffalo Bills GM Doug Whaley.Gutekunst said he hoped that he could keep Wolf as his “right-hand man”, but wouldn’t hold him back if other opportunities arose..
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