The Carolina Panthers will be missing a plethora of players on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints due to a COVID-19 outbreak. However, two of their most impactful defensive players will be eligible to play.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport is reporting that Panthers defensive end Brian Burns and weak-side linebacker Shaq Thompson have cleared COVID-19 protocols and will travel to New Orleans.
Burns is having yet another solid season, racking up 48 total tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles.
Thompson, meanwhile, has 91 total tackles, two sacks and two interceptions this year.
#Panthers defenders Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson have cleared COVID-19 protocols and will travel today and play tomorrow, source says.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 1, 2022
Although the Panthers’ defense will have Burns and Thompson at their disposal, they’ll most likely be without Pro Bowl outside linebacker Haason Reddick.
The Panthers may also be without tight end Tommy Tremble, safety Kenny Robinson, defensive end Darryl Johnson, and practice squad running back Reggie Bonnafon.
With several players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Panthers will need to adopt a “next man up” mentality.
“Around here, we have a next-man-up mentality, and everybody’s got to be prepared to the Carolina Panthers standard no matter who goes down,” Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos said. “I know everybody else is going to be prepared as well as myself for whatever role that might be.”
The Panthers and Saints will kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET.
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