Tom Sorensen

Panthers DE Mario Addison has a big play in him – on offense

Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) leads the team in sacks, but he’s fast enough to make an impact elsewhere. Like, on offense.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) leads the team in sacks, but he’s fast enough to make an impact elsewhere. Like, on offense. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Mario Addison leads the Carolina Panthers with 7.5 sacks. But because he doesn’t start fans might not appreciate him.

Addison is a specialist, a closer. At 6-3 and 260 pounds, he isn’t big enough to play every down. So when he enters on passing downs he is fresh, fast. He might be as fast for a defensive end as Ted Ginn Jr. is for a receiver.

Addison played running back for his Pee-Wee team in Birmingham, Ala., and quarterback for Tarrant, his Birmingham high school team. As a quarterback, he didn’t run to give his receivers an opportunity to break free of defenders. He ran because he could. If a receiver didn’t break free immediately, well, son, you are officially a blocker.

If offensive tackles can’t stop Addison on passing downs, what would linebackers and defensive backs do if Addison grabbed a screen pass out of the backfield? I asked him last season why he didn’t lobby for the ball?

Inside every defensive player is a running back, receiver or quarterback. Addison said he had lobbied Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula.

Great. What did Shula say?

Said Addison: “We’ll keep you in mind.”

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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