Carolina Panthers Retrospective
Comeback Kid: DT Corvey Irvin fighting his way out obscurity, hoping to land a starting gig E-mail
Written by Steve Reed   
Friday, 05 August 2011 14:20

Panthers DT Corvey Irvin (center) looks to claim a starting spot at defensive tackle. (AP file photo)

   SPARTANBURG, S.C. – When the Carolina Panthers lined up for team drills this week there was a familiar, albeit surprising face working with the first team at defensive tackle.
   His name: Corvey Irvin.
   You may remember him as being Carolina’s third-round pick in 2009, the kid who never panned out. Many wrote him off as a bust, and understandably so, after the Panthers cut him from the 53-man roster last August.
   Well, hold everything.
   Irvin is back.
   After being re-signed to Carolina’s practice squad last season and eventually fighting his way back on the 53-man roster for the final two games of last season, Irvin has the look of a guy who’s ready to contribute at the NFL level the same way he did at the college level at the University of Georgia. 
   He’s added significant muscle mass to his 6-foot-3, 302-pound frame and has vastly improved his pass rushing technique. He’s been working with the ones at the three-technique alongside veteran nose tackle Ron Edwards, although he'll have his hands full keeping that spot with third-round draft pick Terrell McClain pushing him for playing time.
   “It’s a blessing and it’s an opportunity,” the 26-year-old Irvin said of running with the starters. “And I don’t want that opportunity to slip away. I’m taking every play like it’s my last. No matter how tired I get on the field I just try to go harder and harder.”
   And coaches have noticed.
   Ron Rivera readily admits he didn’t know much about Irvin before taking over in Carolina, so he essentially gave him a clean slate. So far he’s been quite pleased.
   “I’ve been impressed with him, to be honest,” Rivera said. “I really like what I’ve seen from the young man. Other than having watched him on tape from last season and not knowing him personally I have to say I’m impressed. He’s given us the kind of effort that you would expect from a guy who wants to make a team and be part of what you do.”
   Irvin said getting cut by the Panthers last August served as a bit of wakeup call for him, a challenge to his own pride.
   He didn’t blame the old coaching staff, but rather looked inward to see what he could better. This past offseason he worked out extensively in Atlanta with former Falcons and Panthers defensive end Chuck Smith, whom he considers a mentor.
   Their focus was on technique and getting stronger at the point of attack.
   Irvin said when he got to the NFL he became too reliant upon his strength and speed. “At this level everybody is strong, everybody is big and everybody is fast so your technique must be very precise,” Irvin said.
   They worked on getting back to what Irvin does best and that’s pushing the pocket.
   “I had a lot of thinking to do when I was cut,” Irvin said. “It hurt. But I didn’t give up. I just continued to work every day. I just become a pro and did things the right way and be consistent.”
   Looking back, Irvin thinks getting released by the Panthers might have been a blessing in disguise.
   “Everybody needs a setback sometimes to really evaluate what the situation really is,” Irvin said. “I couldn’t blame no one. I had to look at myself in the mirror and hold myself to a high standard and really do what I had to do.”
   Now Irvin is out to prove he’s not a bust and that he not only belongs in the NFL, but can excel there too.
   “I want to be a starter for one; that’s my first goal,” Irvin said. “I would love to make the Pro Bowl too. I just want to play my part in this defense. I know I can do it. I got that feeling man.
   “That’s just how I feel.”