Was reading about this earlier but was too lazy to post it, but I assume part of the speculation comes from this (from the same article about Neblett's statements on suspension and Gettis' PUP stint):http://www.panthers....98-17263a49bed9
CHARLOTTE – Last season, the Panthers experimented with a 3-4 defensive alignment for a handful of plays.
This year, the Panthers hope the 3-4 can become a handful for opposing offenses.
“When teams have to prepare for more than one type of defense, that helps. It’s the same thing as how we want defenses preparing for an offense that’s multi-faceted,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday after the second day of a three-day camp leading into training camp.
“The biggest thing is that we have some guys that have some ability to play linebacker and defensive end for us, and we’ve got to look at utilizing their talents and their abilities. That may mean us playing a little bit of 3-4. We’ve got to be flexible and keep our options open.”
The Panthers still plan to operate out of a 4-3 base, but Rivera wants to take full advantage of the flexibility among his personnel along the front seven.
Defensive ends Antwan Applewhite and Jyles Tucker played outside linebacker in a 3-4 during Rivera’s tenure as defensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers, and Eric Norwood played both spots in college. Defensive end Charles Johnson lined up at defensive tackle during the 3-4 experiments last season, and defensive end Greg Hardy is athletic enough to play linebacker in a 3-4.
The Panthers also have four linebackers capable of playing every down with the addition of first-round draft pick Luke Kuechly. However, 3-4 alignments out of a 4-3 base are at least as likely to feature a fourth defensive lineman at outside linebacker as they are four traditional linebackers.
Making such flexibility more possible in 2012 is that the Panthers have enjoyed plenty of rehab time and classroom time this offseason.
“The thing that helps us is that our middle is back,” Rivera said. “We lose Ron Edwards, who understands playing the nose in the 3-4. We lose our two primary inside backers (Jon Beason and Thomas Davis). Getting them all back helps, plus having Organized Team Activities and minicamps has given us more of an opportunity to prepare.”
Unless one lacks reading comprehension, it's basically saying the same thing that Rivera said last year regarding 3-4 looks... In summary: "We'll use them."