Playing For Matt Rhule Has Juston Burris Excited For Fresh Start In Carolina


In his first four seasons in the NFL, safety Juston Burris has yet to find a long-term home after spending time with the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns (twice.)

This offseason, Burris had an opportunity for a fresh start in his home state with the Carolina Panthers, but also to play under first-year head coach Matt Rhule.

"That was a guy that I wanted to play for," Burris said about Rhule on Sunday. "Just hearing stories and hearing things about how players really wanted to run through a brick wall for him. Along with many other factors like coming back home, that was a guy I wanted to play for and a guy that I wanted to come back to Carolina for. This is a great opportunity that presented itself and it's just a blessing to be here."

Burris, a Raleigh native who played for N.C. State from 2011-16, has already seen the energy Rhule brings in just two weeks on the field with him.

"(It's) very fast tempo," Burris said. "He (Rhule) wants everybody running between drill-to-drill. Not a lot of downtime just trying to keep that tempo ramped up. It's great because there is a lot of energy. From him, down to the coaches, down to us, there is a lot of energy and it's great to be around."

That coaching-style has Burris believing Rhule can lead the Panthers to a lot of success despite never being a head coach on the NFL level.

"We have a coach who we believe in and we have a coach who has the formula," Burris said. "If that's working hard, high-tempo and high-energy, that's fine with us. If you're going to lead us to victory, we're behind you. We believe in him and we believe he's going to do that."

Being all-in is important because there is a lot of work to be done on the secondary.

Burris is one of the handful of new faces on Carolina's secondary with Tre Boston and Donte Jackson being two of the only impact players returning.

Just because they're new together doesn't mean they can't be successful.

"Just staying hungry and staying ready," Burris said. "I think we have a lot of guys like me in my fifth year and a guy like Tre (Boston) in his seventh year, we're still hungry. We still have a lot to prove and a lot we want to get accomplished. We think this is the perfect guy and the right situation for a new regime and staff to come in and get that done."

Burris played cornerback in college and also has experience playing nickel along with his current safety position.

Last season in Cleveland, Burris had a career-year with two interceptions, 30 tackles, and a sack.

The Panthers also added rookies Jeremy Chinn and Troy Pride Jr. to the secondary this offseason, giving new defensive coordinator Phil Snow a lot of versatility to work with.

"When we can be versatile like that, we have a bunch of guys who can do that--we're able to fool offenses and they won't understand where we're coming from or who's playing what and it'll give us an advantage," Burris said. "From day one they (Coaching staff) said we don't want you guys to learn one position. We want you to learn multiple. Being able to switch positions and do different things is going to be great for our defense."

Despite the late start to the season, Burris is energized and ready for a new opportunity in Carolina.

"A lot of people might no know our names yet but we have the pieces to be a great secondary and be a great defense, and I think we can surprise a lot of people," he said.