4 Panthers players who will be key to a potential turnaround

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Robby Anderson
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Robby Anderson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

Yetur Gross-Matos returning to the roster couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Carolina Panthers. Underperforming free-agent signing Stephen Weatherly is out for the season and the front seven isn’t giving stud edge rusher Brian Burns enough assistance in pursuit of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks consistently.

The second-round pick made his triumphant return from the reserve/injured list against the Buccaneers, but it was clear the Panthers were being ultra-cautious with the former Penn State standout. However, it would be a huge surprise if Gross-Matos didn’t get some substantial game time between now and the end of the campaign providing his ankle holds up.

Gross-Matos has shown glimpses of enormous promise during his first year at the next level. The edge rusher fell into the Panthers’ laps at No. 38 overall and if he can build on this now he’s back on the field, it will make all the difference.

Not having an explosive presence opposite Burns has been a glaring weakness over the course of the season. It’s allowed protection schemes to hone in on the second-year-pro and limit his influence, which is still of an exceptionally high standard despite the extra attention.

If Gross-Matos can prove his worth to the coaching staff in the next few weeks, the Panthers might just have a defensive end partnership that can benefit them both in the short and long term.