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SPARTANBURG Dontari Poe Color Rush Jersey , S.C. (AP) — Panthers defensive end Mario Addison has spent his entire life shedding labels.Now the former undrafted rookie from Troy who was waived by three other NFL teams appears on the verge of joining the upper echelon of the league’s defensive ends entering his eighth season.The 30-year-old Addison has slowly but steadily worked his way up through the NFL ranks, going from being a special teams player early in his career to a third-down pass rush specialist and finally to an every down defensive end last season. Despite being undersized at 254 pounds, Addison started all 16 games for the Panthers in 2017, registering 11 sacks and 44 tackles.“He’s been a guy that everybody had tried to knock for his whole career,” Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly said. “Everyone has tried to put him in a box and he keeps bursting out of the box that people try to put him in. And yet nobody talks enough about what he has done.”All Addison has done is record 20 ½ sacks over the last two seasons and taken a firm grasp on the team’s starting right defensive end spot. Not bad for a kid who was so lightly recruited in high school he wound up playing at Northeast Community College in Booneville, Mississippi before earning a scholarship offer from Troy.Addison’s NFL career didn’t begin to blossom until he joined the Panthers late in the 2012 season.He played mostly on special teams at first, but developed into a situational pass rusher and combined for 12 ½ sacks in 2013 and 2014. The following year he tallied 9 ½ sacks, earning him a three-year, $22.5 million contract from Carolina.“I knew I had it me Jarius Wright Jersey ,” Addison said. “I just had to show the coaches that I was able to play every down. Every year I grew and showed them that I am worthy of playing every down. It has worked out for me.”The knock on Addison was that he wasn’t big enough.He regularly gives up 50-plus pounds and several inches to some of the league’s gigantic left tackles.But teammates and coaches say Addison has unusual strength and desire to get better that has taken him to another level.“I think he’s tough, he’s physical and he’s strong,” Kuechly said. “His speed and his strength are a very rare combination. I mean, he has 20 ½ sacks the last two seasons. If you were to say that about another guy in the league, you would be ranking him way higher, right?”Eric Washington, the Panthers defensive line coach prior to being promoted to coordinator earlier this offseason, has been a huge influence on Addison.Addison said Washington gave him the “tools” he needed to add to his skillset and showed him how to use them. Addison took it from there, working day after day to perfect his craft not only as a rusher but as a run defender.Washington talks of Addison like a proud parent , calling him one of the toughest players he’s ever coached — both physically and mentally — and saying the motivation of being cut by three other teams has helped drive him to succeed.“Every single year he has accepted the challenge of improving and growing,” Washington said. “He’s always wanted to be a starter and a difference maker.”Addison said his personal goal this season is to top 11 sacks.Teammates like Kuechly say that is entirely possible, knowing his motivation.“Everything I got now, I worked for,” Addison said. “And I value it. Nothing was given to me in this league. Truly everything I got, I earned. Every morning I wake up and I’m driven — I am driven to get better.” PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kenny Pickett knows his numbers in his first year as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback weren’t great. He doesn’t particularly care.What the numbers failed to show were all the times he would come to the line of scrimmage, survey the defense and check for the right play, a play that was almost always a handoff for a team that relied heavily on the running back tandem of Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollision.Those heady decisions earned Pickett praise during video review sessions the next morning, even if they didn’t fill up the stat sheet with gaudy passing numbers or do much to build on the “Kenny Perfect” moniker bestowed upon him following his electric debut as a freshman at the end of 2017.“I’m not here to please fans Greg Van Roten Color Rush Jersey ,” said Pickett, who threw for 1,969 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018, both totals that failed to crack the top 10 in the 14-team ACC. “I’m here to please the guys in our locker room, on our coaching staff. So as long as I’m doing right by my teammates first and then the coaches, it’s OK with me. I just want to win.”Something the Panthers did enough last season to earn the program its first ACC Coastal Division title . Yet momentum in the Coastal is fickle. No team has repeated as Coastal champions since Virginia Tech in 2011.For Pitt to get back to Charlotte to face the Atlantic Division winner on the first Saturday in December, the Panthers need the passing game to be more of a threat. Being one-dimensional caught up to Pitt late in the year, when it ended the season with a three-game losing streak that included a lopsided loss to Clemson in which the Panthers managed just eight yards through the air.New offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was brought in to provide a jolt . He and Pickett holed up during much of the spring and portions of the summer, with Whipple — whose coaching career includes three stops in the NFL — often using tape of NFL stars Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers to make a point.The underlying message isn’t to expect Pickett to play as they do , but to give him tangible proof that the points Whipple is attempting to make have merit. Consider Pickett a believer. Their meetings didn’t focus so much on what play Whipple called but why he called it, a process that Pickett says has allowed him to become a coach on the field. The trickle down has generated a greater buy-in by the offensive players as a whole.“He’s way more confident and way more stronger to where he can handle what he has to do,” senior wide receiver Maurice Ffrench said. “He’s more mature now. Me and him sit down and watch film with one another and read everything and I understand and pick his brain to: ‘Where do you want me to be? How do you want me to run this route?’ That’s how our whole receivers’ room is. Just to be on the same page.”Other things to watch for as Pitt looks to prove its unlikely rise from a 2-3 start to a spot in the ACC title game last year was no fluke.REBOOT AT RBUHall and Ollison — both of whom topped 1,000 yards in 2018 — are now in the NFL. Enter A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley Jr., who have 72 career touches combined.“I think for the most part they understand what we’re trying to get done, but there’s so many little nuances that it just takes time to learn,” running backs coach Andrew Powell said. “It’s going to take some time. We’re going to be patient and we’ll figure out who can play winning football and we’ll try to get them in a position to help us win.”DEPTH ON DPitt coach Pat Narduzzi built his resume by constructing intimidating defenses at Michigan State. Now in his fifth season with the Panthers, he might be doing the same at Pitt. However, there are serious questions at linebacker — which is trying to replace three starters — and at defensive end after Rashad Weaver was lost for the year because of a knee injury. There is plenty of experience in the secondary and along the defensive line even with Weaver out.KEY STRETCHThe schedule is heavy on home games early Carolina Panthers Customized Jerseys , putting the onus on Pitt to deliver on the road last. Visits to Georgia Tech on Nov. 2 and Virginia Tech on Nov. 23 will go a long way toward determining whether the Panthers are legitimate contenders in the Coastal.FOR OPENERSThe Panthers open the season by hosting Virginia on Aug. 30. Pitt is 5-1 against the Cavaliers since joining the ACC. Beating Virginia, the preseason pick to win the Coastal, would be an important first step to a repeat.

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