Brian Burns knows he has to get bigger

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The Panthers fell in love with Brian Burns last season, imagining the impact the Florida State pass-rusher could make on a team that badly needed his kind of burst.

But they also know the player they saw then might get pushed around, which is why he’s trying to transform his body before his rookie season.

The first-round pick said he played last season at 230 pounds, but he showed up at 253 pounds for the Scouting Combine — which is closer to the size he probably needs to be to play outside linebacker in the NFL. That’s also 10 percent of his previous body weight on top of his lean frame.

That’s a dramatic gain, and nearly half of that has fallen off since then, as he said at the end of minicamp he was at 243. The question for him now is how to balance the size he wants without losing the explosiveness he needs.

“I honestly do not know the answer to that question,” Burns said of the ideal weight. “I felt great at 250, 253. That was my max weight. i felt great at that weight. Now I just have to work on putting that back on.

“They haven’t given me a specific number they want me at. I’m pretty much putting that weight on for myself, because I think it will benefit me at this level.”

Burns said that as he tries to bulk up, he’s talked to the team nutritionist about making sure he’s putting the right things in his body, since he knows it has to be taken more seriously now.

“Eat right. That’s it. Eat right and stay hydrated,” he said. “Just knowing the importance of hydration is important, because I get dehydrated fast, and I realize that can be up to five pounds at a time.

“You can do that in college if you take advantage of resources. Coaches and nutritionists are there, but being a college kid, you ain’t really listening to that. You’ve got a nutritionist and everything, but if you’re up late studying, you go to Whataburger or McDonald’s and pick up a quick snack. I know I can’t be doing that now.”

Finding that happy medium instead of the medium fries will be key, because the Panthers need him to play a role. They added veteran Bruce Irvin, but as they transition to a hybrid 3-4 defense, they’re hungry for edge rushers, and hope Burns can fill that need.