5 key Panthers matchups to watch vs. the Bucs in Week 10

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Curtis Samuel
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Curtis Samuel /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns vs. Tom Brady

Brian Burns is quickly emerging as one of the NFL’s brightest young defensive ends. The former first-round pick has thrived with more responsibility on his shoulders this season and the Carolina Panthers rely on him heavily to get pressure on the quarterback.

Let’s face it, they aren’t getting it from anyone else.

If Burns struggles to make his presence felt from a pass-rushing perspective, then so do the Panthers. They do have second-round selection Yetur Gross-Matos back from a high ankle sprain, but it’s clear they’re being ultra-cautious with the Penn State product and blending him back into the rotation slowly.

The only way Carolina will stand a chance against the Buccaneers is if they get quarterback Tom Brady off his spot. While the perennial Super Bowl winner is still more than capable of making the necessary throws, his decision-making under pressure is something that’s really come across during his poor performances this season.

Burns will see this as a tremendous opportunity to further boost his ever-growing reputation. There is evidence of the Florida State product getting to the spot quickly and when he finally finishes off his pass-rushing moves consistently, then he is going to be even more of a problem for opposing protection schemes.