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Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns changes jersey number to No. 0: 'A new beginning' for Carolina

Brian Burns will have a new look this season -- in the front seven and on the front of his jersey.

The Panthers' star pass rusher is taking advantage of a new league rule and changing his number from No. 53 to No. 0, he told the team's website Wednesday.

"I kind of was on the zero thing before everyone jumped on it," Burns said. "Now it's a common thing in the league. It feels good to know I'll be the first Panther with it, though."

As Burns alluded to, he will be the first player in the 28-year history of the Panthers to wear No. 0. He's one of many players around the league who have switched their numbers to the nil digit this offseason after NFL owners approved a proposal in March to allow players to wear No. 0 -- that is, all players except for offensive and defensive linemen.

Thankfully for Burns, who had lined up as a defensive end in former coordinator Steve Wilks' 4-3 scheme, the Panthers, under new coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, are switching to a 3-4, moving Burns, who's coming off offseason ankle surgery, to the role of outside linebacker.

"I figured since they're changing my position technically, because of the defense we're in now, it gives me the opportunity to do something new," Burns explained. "I feel like it's a lot of new around here. So I feel like, why not do it? It's a new beginning.

"We've got a lot of new. A lot of new things going in our favor now; I really feel good about this year, and this team and what we're doing."

In addition to the number's symbolic nature, Burns added he's also making the jersey change for aesthetic reasons.

"It don't look good [on the smaller players]," Burns said. "I've seen all shapes and sizes. I've seen it on the 300-pounders, I've seen it on the little guys, but I feel like I'm going to look the best; I'm not going to lie to you."

Burns, a two-time Pro Bowler in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, is the anchor of Carolina's defense. His 12.5 sacks in 16 starts last season were a career high; in his first four seasons in the NFL, Burns racked up 38 sacks, 11th-most in the league in that span.

The 25-year-old hopes to put up similar numbers in a new number in 2023.

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