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Joe Kenn is behind-the-scenes strength of Panthers 365 days a year

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Strength of the Panthers (3:19)

One reason the Carolina Panthers were so successful on the field in 2015 was they were successful off the field. Joe Kenn, named the NFL strength coach of the year, had a lot to do with that. He's already working on the 2016 plan. (3:19)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy approached Joe Kenn with a fist bump and then quickly exited without addressing a question on what the strength coach has meant to the organization.

"Off the clock, bud," Ealy said.

Kenn laughed. "He knows I'll get him back," he said.

Kenn seemingly never is off the clock. His weight room at Bank of America Stadium is always open for the players who helped Carolina win the NFC championship this past season.

Even in the offseason, a large number take advantage.

"These guys are here because they want to be here," Kenn said. "For them to pop in and out throughout their offseason speaks a lot about the building."

Kenn, the NFL Strength Coach of the Year, was one of the many members of the organization who received postseason honors during the team's run to Super Bowl 50. But Kenn takes little credit.

"The credit has to go to your athletes," he said. "They're the guys that put you on that pedestal by the way they play every Sunday."

But it's Kenn who helped put players in position to play their best. He did this by tailoring workout programs to fit the individual.

For example, quarterback Cam Newton's workout program is completely different than that of middle linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Kuechly's plan is different than that of tight end Greg Olsen.

"The last thing you want to do as a strength coach is for the guy to go into game day and the reason he feels fatigued is because he did something he shouldn't have done in the weight room to get him sore," Kenn said.

That means Kenn has to be aware of how many snaps each player takes, how long practices go, whether the players are in pads or not.

He has to adjust on the fly.

"If a guy comes in and it was a tough practice, I have to be smarter to know this is too much today," he said. "We'll make that adjustment for them. That's one of the key things in my job."

Kenn was hired after Ron Rivera was named head coach in 2011. He completely restructured the weight room, which had been run by basically the same group the past 10 years.

He separated the weight room into two areas -- free weights based in the main room and auxiliary lift machines in the other room.

A younger player might use a combination of both sides. An older player might spend more time on the machines.

A former guard at Wake Forest University, Kenn understands that a developing 17- to 21-year-old college football player has a different body, and that body has different needs, than most NFL players.

Unlike many strength coaches, Kenn isn't big into Olympic-based training.

"I don't train Olympic lifters," he said. "I do variations of the Olympic lifts because I think there is merit in the overall development of a football athlete.

"But for me to hang my hat and say if we don't do these lifts, that guy is not going to be a better football player, it's kind of laughable."

If Kenn were training a player to be an Olympic lifter it would be running back Jonathan Stewart.

"If we were saying nobody is playing football, and I got eight weeks to train these guys as a power lifter or weight lifter, it would be hard to beat Jonathan," Kenn said of the 5-foot-10, 235-pound back.

You might be surprised to learn which player spends the most time in the weight room. It's not Kuechly.

"Greg Olsen is the ultimate workout fanatic," Kenn said of the two-time Pro Bowl selection. "His plan of attack is extremely meticulous, 365 days a year."

There's no player Kenn respects more in or out of the weight room than Thomas Davis. The outside linebacker was coming off of ACL surgery on his right knee for the third time when Kenn was hired.

Kenn, who had ACL surgery in college, watched up close all that Davis endured. So he wasn't surprised that Davis played in Super Bowl 50 two weeks after having surgery to repair a fractured forearm or that Davis was back in the weight room two weeks after the title game.

"His gift is his intrinsic motivation to prove to himself that no one is going to determine my outcome but Thomas Davis," Kenn said. "That's why no one around here made too big of a deal of it."

Kenn does make a big deal about Newton's workout.

"Cam is probably the most unique athlete that I've ever seen," he said of the 6-5, 260-pound NFL MVP.

Newton is perhaps the best example of how Kenn's staff tailors programs to individuals. The quarterback works directly with assistant trainer Jason Benguche on a program Kenn said is "entirely off the grid."

"We'll use weights," Kenn said. "He'll use TRX [suspension training]. We spend time on big, structural lifts. He's going to do isolated core work and a lot more rotation-type work to keep his core strong for his specific sport.

"The dude is a genetic anomaly. You do something to alter that in a negative way then you've altered his play. That's not good for the weight room."

Ultimately, Kenn's goal is to say the weight room is good for the Panthers. He's already working on this year's offseason program, which has been condensed from nine to eight weeks because of the extended season.

He expects close to full -- if not full -- participation when OTAs begin on April 25.

"It's easy to do your job when you've got our locker room," Kenn said. "We all kind of feed off each other."