4 Panthers players who need to step up at Washington

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

The Carolina Panthers could be without their stud defensive end Brian Burns for Sunday’s trip to Washington. He went off late at the Packers after bringing down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and there appears little point in the decision-makers risking the 2019 first-round pick at this stage of the campaign.

If Burns misses the game as expected, then Yetur Gross-Matos is going to get a good chance to make a name for himself.

The second-round pick has made an encouraging start to life at the next level despite injury problems and a trip to the reserve-COVID-19 list. So there is a lot to like about Gross-Matos’ potential for increased numbers with more reps at FedEx Field.

Gross-Matos has 1.5 sacks, 21 tackles, one forced fumble, four quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and 10 pressures from 32 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps this season. The former Penn State sensation has demonstrated he belongs in the NFL with some eye-catching power and explosiveness off the edge and there is every chance he can make further strides with a less disrupted offseason to develop in 2021.

Being the Panthers’ No. 1 pass-rushing option at Washington is going to be another significant boost from an experience perspective and it will tell Matt Rhule and his coaching staff plenty about what they can expect from the player moving forward.