Carolina Panthers

Veteran Panthers DEs impacting Marquis Haynes, and one has a familiar comparison

Carolina Panthers defensive end Marquis Haynes (98) has been soaking up tips from the Panthers' decorated room of veteran defensive linemen.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Marquis Haynes (98) has been soaking up tips from the Panthers' decorated room of veteran defensive linemen.

Carolina Panthers veteran defensive end Julius Peppers has been rehabilitating his surgically repaired shoulder through organized team activities, so he hasn't been on the field much.

But he and other veterans have already made an impact on Carolina's rookie fourth-round pick, defensive end Marquis Haynes.

Haynes, who was still in elementary school when Peppers began his Hall of Fame career, said Peppers gave him a few tips early on.

"Pep gave me a little talk about how I need to use my hands more," he said. "It's an everyday grind out here learning from the vets, but it's one blessed opportunity."

Yet it's Mario Addison who has compared Haynes to himself. Like Addison, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Haynes came into the league undersized for his position, but very fast.

Addison developed over the past seven years into a starting defensive end known for his speed and his deceptive strength. Haynes wants to become a similar player.

"It's great to have speed," Haynes said. "But people underestimate us for our strength. Once we line up, they think it'll be easy cake until they hike the ball. Then they will have a problem.

"Me and Mario talk, he said I'm a 'young him,' and that's a big compliment right there. He tells me stories about how it took him awhile to learn the playbook and stuff. But one thing he keeps telling me is speed, speed off the ball, speed kills. And listening to him and learning from him, I see what it does when you have speed."

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Carolina Panthers' Marquis Haynes (98) is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, which is undersized for his position. But he makes up for it with speed and, as he says, deceptive power. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

It's clear the Panthers saw similarities when drafting Haynes. After the pick, coach Ron Rivera remarked that he could see Haynes in the team's "Joker" package, in which a defensive end can drop into coverage, rush the passer or defend the run, similar to how an outside linebacker would in a 3-4 base.

Carolina plays a 4-3 base, but the package can be used situationally by defensive coordinator Eric Washington, who has seen it as a fit for the speedy Addison in some scenarios.

Haynes has not taken many snaps in the "Joker" package yet, this early into offseason installments. But he says he's seen Addison at work in it, and can learn a lot from the veteran.

"I got a first glimpse of what it can do, with me dropping into coverage," he said. "I think it's going to play out really well. But I'm going to worry every day about the playbook and learn how to use my speed. I just want to get to the quarterback."

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Before he could get to work as a Carolina Panther, however, Haynes had quite the accomplishment off the field.

Haynes was the first from his family to earn a college diploma, and missed a day of rookie minicamp to walk in commencement last month. He someday wants his baby daughter to not just see that he made it to the NFL, but that he got his degree, too.

She, and his mother and girlfriend and aunts, were there to watch him walk across the stage at Ole Miss.

"I really appreciate Coach Rivera and the staff giving me the opportunity to go back and walk," he said. "It shows how much getting a degree really means (to them), and then coming to the NFL right after, that was a big step for me.

"All I can say is that I was really blessed that the people there got to watch me walk.

"And now I keep it moving."

Charlotte Observer's Joe Person and Jourdan Rodrigue offer their observations from the Carolina Panthers OTAs including discussions on the team's new offensive and defensive coordinators.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071; @jourdanrodrigue
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