4 changes that could instantly improve the Panthers’ defense

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

2. Start Yetur Gross-Matos

The Carolina Panthers received some good news when Yetur Gross-Matos was activated for their game at the Chiefs. The second-round pick was on the field for just 21 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 9 and once he makes a return to full health, this is something that needs to change.

Gross-Matos showed flashes of brilliance before a spell on the sidelines with a high ankle sprain. He was able to generate pressure consistently in a rotational role and given the Panthers haven’t got much in the playoff contention to fight for, now is the time to hand him the starting role that is currently being occupied by Stephen Weatherly.

Much was expected of the free-agent signing following his move from the Minnesota Vikings. Weatherly’s performances in a rotational role behind Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter convinced Carolina to give him a two-year, $12.5 million deal. But his level of production hasn’t brought even one sack through nine weeks.

Weatherly has five more pressures than Gross-Matos having played 267 more snaps. This is a damning indictment of his contribution so far this season and it’s clear the Panthers need more opposite stud defensive end, Brian Burns.

The former Penn State standout’s injury needs to be handled with caution. But if Gross-Matos is fit and raring to go, then it won’t be long before the shackles are taken off.