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Friday’s scathing report from The Athletic regarding the Carolina Panthers and head coach Matt Rhule included a rough assessment of the team’s defense, in which an NFL scout was quoted as saying the group was “soft.” Well, they might be “soft,” but at least they won’t be too shorthanded on Sunday.
As first noted by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the Panthers will have defensive end Brian Burns and linebacker Shaq Thompson available for their Week 17 matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Burns and Thompson were two of the six players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the team back on Monday.
#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
Both men are having themselves standout campaigns here in 2021. Burns has already tied a career-high in sacks (9.0) with two games left while also leading Carolina in tackles for a loss (13) and forced fumbles (two). Thompson, despite missing three games earlier in the season with a foot injury, is up to 91 combined tackles, 2.0 sacks and two interceptions.
That leaves the Panthers with 11 guys remaining on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including pass rushers Haason Reddick and Marquis Haynes Sr.