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
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

The Carolina Panthers could be without two of their primary pass-catchers in Week 14 depending on whether Curtis Samuel comes off the reserve/COVID-19 list in time. This might finally see tight end Ian Thomas get more targets thrown his way.

Big things were expected from Thomas this season after the Panthers decided to cut ties with prolific veteran Greg Olsen after years of exceptional service on and off the field to the organization. Things haven’t gone according to plan for the former fourth-round pick, who has been a relative afterthought in Joe Brady’s dynamic scheme despite his preference to use tight ends heavily during his time at LSU.

Thomas has yet to break the 100-yard barrier this season and has just 20 targets to his name. This is an immense disappointment whichever way one looks at it. But even if Samuel is able to go in Week 14, someone else needs to step-up in the wake of D.J. Moore probably missing out.

This could be Thomas’ last chance to prove he can become a viable long-term starter at the position. If he cannot get more involved with so much disruption emanating from the Panthers following their bye week, then he probably never will.