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Sack specialist Mario Addison could be Panthers' J.J. Watt Light

Carolina's Mario Addison had two sacks on just 31 plays Sunday in the season-opener against Jacksonville. AP Photo/John Raoux

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison might never be J.J. Watt in terms of an every-down player.

But Addison already is a pretty good version of J.J. Watt Light.

If you look at the NFL sack leaders, Addison is tied with the Houston Texans sack machine and six others for the league lead with two.

If you consider sacks per play, Addison is alone in first. His came on 31 plays, 46 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps. Watt needed 68 plays, 97 percent of Houston’s defensive snaps.

"That guy is a grinder," Addison said of Watt, who will be at Bank of America Stadium for Sunday’s game 1 p.m. game against the Panthers. "If I had the same opportunity, I know I can probably do the same thing. It’s always about opportunities."

The Panthers don’t play Addison every down for fear that at 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds his body would wear down because of the run-stuffing duties he would face on first and second down.

"He, for the most part, is a situational pass-rusher," coach Ron Rivera said.

Addison also is an integral part of special teams, although he played only five snaps there in Sunday’s 20-9 victory at Jacksonville.

Watt is what many call a freak athlete at 6-5, 288. He is built to take the every-down pounding without losing a step on the pass rush.

"Just opportunity, man," Addison said. "When I do get in there I’ve got to capitalize on it. Ain’t no waiting around. I’ve got to make it happen. A guy like J.J. Watt, he’ll have more opportunities."

Watt began getting opportunities from the moment the Texans made him the 11th pick of the 2011 draft. Addison, 28, came into the league the same year as an undrafted rookie with Chicago.

After stints on the practice squads at Washington and Indianapolis, the former Troy State star landed with Carolina in 2012.

He has 11 sacks in three-plus seasons with the Panthers, including 6.5 a year ago. He also had a sack last season in a divisional playoff game at Seattle.

Watt has 59 sacks, including 20.5 a year ago.

"That’s pretty damn good," Addison said.

So can Addison keep pace with Watt in the sack race for an entire season despite playing far fewer snaps?

"It ain’t so much keeping pace with him," Addison said. "I’ve just got to dominate the guy in front of me and do what I do best."