Kawann Short became the first Carolina Panthers defensive tackle to win NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors on Wednesday, but he’s not resting on it.
“It’s good. I love it but I still got to continue doing what I’m doing,” Short said.
Short, a third-year player out of Purdue, wrapped up the award with a five-sack month of October. He leads all defensive tackles in the league with five sacks – all of which he got in the Seattle and Philadelphia games.
While sacks are great, defensive tackles are usually asked to clog the middle on rushing plays and push the pocket to let the defensive ends get to the quarterback.
Instead, Short is hogging all the sacks. But that’s by design, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. Rivera compared Short to Warren Sapp, an explosive, play-making defensive tackle.
“You look for that explosive guy, and that’s who we have right now,” Rivera said. “We have a guy who’s explosive, who can get good vertical push that way the quarterback can’t step up. And if he does step up then he’s stepping into him. If he doesn’t step up, he stays back and now your defensive backs have a chance to make plays. That guy has to be an impact player.”
Short’s award follows Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, who won the award in September for a month that saw him total two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and five pass breakups.
Short had five sacks in three games this month. He dropped quarterbacks for a loss of 31 yards. To go along with that, Short had 19 tackles, three passes defensed and one forced fumble.
Two weeks ago Short was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week following his two-sack performance against the Seahawks.
Short can add to his season sack total this week against the Indianapolis Colts, who have a leaky offensive line that has allowed quarterback Andrew Luck to be sacked 12 times in five games this year.
But Short says that isn’t a given.
“No, because any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday, it can be the best O-line ever,” Short said. “You’ve got to go out there and hope they make mistakes. And if they make mistakes you’ve got to capitalize on it.
“You can’t expect it. You can see (the holes) but you can’t expect it to happen just because it happened the last game.”