With a team full of superheros, the Panthers seem to always have someone doing the dirty work, someone playing the type of ball that allows the other players to put up league leading stats. Last year’s unsung hero, Kawann Short, is playing like one of the best defensive players in football. Last year, Short was a name Panther fans knew, but bounce to the other 32 and he was not a known name. Now he is the guy people fear, the guy team’s game plan for, and the scary thing is, he is only getting better.
There may be a similar unsung story developing this year. This season's unsung hero is the man who moves all over the line: Kony Ealy. Standing at 6’4 270 pounds, he is able to line up outside on run plays and inside on passing downs. He also plays both sides of the line and lines up for almost every snap. His versatility is a huge game changer because he's a guy with a high motor, who rarely has to come off the field keeps teams having to guess on where he will lineup. He is dangerous because he is able to both bullrush and speed rush from all four spots in the line.
Ealy has only 2 sacks this year, so he doesn't always get the credit he deserves for his play. During most snaps, Ealy has two guys grabbing at him and blocking him. It's something that doesn't show up on the stat sheet but is invaluable to a team because it allows other players like Allen or Addison to get the one-on-one match-ups they! Since Charles Johnson's injury and the acquisition of Jared Allen, Ealy has most often lined up on the left side of the defensive line, meaning he is facing off vs the right tackle of the other team. It's been Ealy's versatility, however, that has really stood out on the film. Earlier in the season, he had been lining up on the right, but he also switches inside to play defensive tackle at times too. He has proven to be a hand full for some of the better tackles in football.
Ron Rivera made a career out of doing the dirty work and with football being a team game, guys like Kony are needed. They are unselfish and help the whole team. Every week, we see Ealy get better and Panthers fans see the breakout potential in him. The same potential that we were talking about just a year ago with Kawann Short. Ealy has stepped up big time this season, contributing to both run stopping and pass rushing. He's becoming a complete DE who is a real team player. THANK YOU KONY #KEEPPOUNDING.
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