3 Carolina Panthers players that must improve in Week 9 at Bengals

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /

Yetur Gross-Matos – Carolina Panthers DE

Yetur Gross-Matos was a second-round pick in 2020. In his first two seasons as a rotational defensive end, he tallied six total sacks and certainly seemed capable of stepping up and producing from a starting role this season.

This hasn’t gone to the script so far. Gross-Matos has just 0.5 sacks on the year and four pressures, which is rapidly becoming a weak link that the Carolina Panthers can ill afford.

That number is far less than most Panthers fans would’ve thought in Gross-Matos’ first season as a starter. He does have one fumble recovery to go along with 25 total tackles, with nine of them being solo, but playing on the edge means generating pressure consistently and that’s where the problems lie.

Gross-Matos’ numbers don’t wow you by any means. However, it’s not too late for the former Penn State standout to turn it around in a crucial Year 3 for the player.

If the production doesn’t increase, general manager Scott Fitterer will have no choice but to look for a replacement in 2023. That will most likely be through the draft given the extra capital acquired through trading Christian McCaffrey.

The defensive unit needs Gross-Matos to find his rhythm and create chaos in opposing teams’ backfields to take the next step toward becoming one of the league’s elite groups. He’ll get another chance to get his season on track against a suspect Cincinnati Bengals offensive line in Week 9.