4 most important Panthers players vs. the Saints in Week 17

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Carolina Panthers

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Davis

New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Sunday, Jan 3
4.25 PM ET
Saints -5.5

The most important Carolina Panthers players vs. the Saints in Week 17.

It is the final gameday of the 2020 season for the Carolina Panthers, who welcome the New Orleans Saints to Bank of America Stadium in Week 17. Although their efforts during the campaign won’t come with a playoff berth or even a winning record, head coach Matt Rhule clearly has the team heading in the right direction providing the necessary reinforcements are secured during free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

It was an offseason of unprecedented change for the Carolina Panthers, which didn’t sit well with many even though it was largely expected. Considering the disruption prior to competitive action getting underway and indeed during the season, this young roster has done a nice job of remaining competitive against high-class opposition and improving all the time.

New Orleans is still in contention for the No. 1 overall seed, so how much their starters see the field will be largely dependent on how the Green Bay Packers are getting on at the Chicago Bears. The Panthers are going to be under-strength for the finale, so how fringe players step-up is going to be key to their fortunes.

Here are four Panthers players who could be classed as the most important against the Saints.

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Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

The Panthers are likely to be without stud defensive end Brian Burns for their final game of the season through injury. So others need to step up and fill this enormous void if they want to stand any chance of knocking off the Saints.

Yetur Gross-Matos will have arguably more responsibility than he’s had before. The rookie edge rusher has shown flashes of brilliance during a frustrating campaign overall due to injury and COVID-19. But a strong showing in Week 17 would build some vital momentum as the former Penn State star looks to progress his game further in the coming months.

Gross-Matos has accumulated 2.5 sacks, 11 pressures, and six quarterback hits from 34 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps in 2020. He’ll get some prominent reps to involve himself further against a talented New Orleans protection and how he gets on will have a big say in the overall outcome.

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