5 Panthers players who need to step up after COVID-19 concerns

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Bravvion Roy
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Bravvion Roy /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Which Carolina Panthers players need to step up following some serious COVID-19 concerns this week?

A rollercoaster 2020 season took another concerning twist this week. The Carolina Panthers returned from their bye week and instantly put another eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, making it 10 in total, which has thrown a significant spanner in the works ahead of their Week 14 game against the Denver Broncos at Bank of America Stadium.

This is yet another obstacle to overcome for head coach Matt Rhule. The former Baylor man has not had things easy since making the move from college by any stretch of the imagination and potentially being without some prominent playmakers on both sides of the ball is only going to complicate matters further.

While this will be a blow to some on the list, it represents a significant opportunity for fringe players to step up and make their mark. And make no mistake, the Panthers will need everyone pulling together at this difficult time.

Let’s take a look at five Panthers players who need to step up after becoming the latest NFL team to suffer COVID-19 complications after their bye week.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Pharoh Cooper /

Pharoh Cooper – Carolina Panthers WR/KR

Even if Curtis Samuel – who is reportedly a close contact – is taken off the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for Carolina’s game against the Broncos, they are set to be without D.J. Moore so another pass-catcher will need to get themselves more involved.

Pharoh Cooper hasn’t seen anything in the way of notable targets this season, with just one ball thrown his way all year. This is something that might change in Week 14 providing he shows enough in practice and he does have the elusiveness to make things happen in open space.

The Panthers could possibly use Brandon Zylstra more prominently. But this is a real opportunity and one he must take advantage of to extend his stay with the franchise.