Yetur Gross-Matos has sights set on Week 1 starting role with Panthers

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Yetur Gross-Matos
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos has his sights set on a starting spot when the Carolina Panthers take on the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1.

Yetur Gross-Matos seems to be thriving during his first few weeks as an active professional. The defensive end made a seamless transition to training camp with the Carolina Panthers as he looks to make a serious impression as a rookie in 2020.

The Carolina Panthers got extremely lucky when Gross-Matos fell into their laps at No. 38 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. General manager Marty Hurney considered trading back into the first round to acquire the former Penn State sensation. But getting their man without giving up a pick enabled them to move up and take do-it-all defender Jeremy Chinn soon after.

New head coach Matt Rhule expects Gross-Matos and Chinn to both play a significant role as first-year pros this season. Their talent is there for all to see and couple this with the formidable presence of defensive tackle Derrick Brown, and the Panthers might just have themselves a solid foundation from which to build a successful future.

Can Yetur Gross-Matos make a big impact with the Carolina Panthers?

There is just no telling how players such as Gross-Matos are going to get on with no preseason games to adjust. Carolina’s coaching staff won’t ask too much of the defensive end other than to get in the backfield consistently. If he is able to do this, then the rest should follow with more experience.

Gross-Matos has been one of the Panthers’ stars at camp and was placed ahead of free-agent signing Stephen Weatherly on the unofficial 2020 depth chart. This is a further indication as to the level of impact he has made in a short space of time. But putting it all together when it matters most is another matter entirely.

The pass-rusher is ambitious, to put it mildly. Gross-Matos has got a starting position in his sights from the word go and he attributed the similar demand from Rhule that he received from his college coach as a primary factor in his ability to adjust to the rigors of the NFL quickly.

"“Coach Rhule is big on grinding, and stuff here and coach (James) Franklin was the same way. It’s good going against different people, testing myself against the ones. They’re the best players on the team, so it’s good to get out there and to work with those guys, too. I’m focusing on getting better every day — going through the film with my coaches, my teammates, and finding one thing to work on to make myself that much better. I’m sure I’ll be happy with the final results.”"

There is a lot to like about the physical attributes that Gross-Matos brings to the table. He is lightning fast off the block and possesses the fluidity to get past opposing protectors with ease.

Gross-Matos might find things tougher in the NFL than he is normally accustomed to. But going up against the likes of Taylor Moton and Russell Okung during team drills has aided his initial transition considerably.

Must Read. 4 Carolina Panthers players who need to hit the ground running in 2020. light

Whether he will be preferred to the experienced Weatherly is another matter. The former Minnesota Viking has sat out some time through injury in recent days. But he will not want this opportunity of a prominent role to pass him by after excelling as a backup behind Pro Bowl duo Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen in the Twin Cities.

Must Read. 4 big takeaways from Carolina Panthers unofficial 2020 depth chart. light

Gross-Matos is going to play his part on a young defense that could go through its fair share of growing pains next season. Throwing the pass-rusher and others in at the deep end is a risk. But it is one that might boost their rebuild considerably.