5 Panthers players who need to shine at Colts in preseason Week 1

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

The strides made down the stretch by Yetur Gross-Matos as a rookie were encouraging. What comes next for the defensive end is equally if not more important.

Things are looking up for the Carolina Panthers on defense. Some impressive reinforcements were acquired in free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, which only adds to the dynamic players already on the roster for coordinator Phil Snow to utilize.

Gross-Matos falls into this category.

The Penn State product showed he had enough explosiveness to generate pressure at the next level in 2020. Even though his campaign stuttered thanks to injury and a spell on the COVID-19 list.

That being said, Gross-Matos should have a key rotational part to play next season. Morgan Fox has been getting the majority of first-team reps opposite Brian Burns, with the Panthers also boasting an intriguing option in Haason Reddick to use on the front if they see fit.

How Gross-Matos gets on in the preseason will determine his role in the coming months. If he impresses, then it might see him surpass Fox on the depth chart and secure a starting spot.

This all starts at the Indianapolis Colts, who still possess a formidable offensive line despite the absence of Quenton Nelson.