Falcons: Panthers in danger of not having star pass rusher for Week 1

NFL: DEC 24 Lions at Panthers

The Falcons are preparing to host the Panthers in the season opener. Atlanta could be without a couple of key contributors as Cordarrelle Patterson and Jeff Okudah deal with injuries; however, Carolina could also be without a couple of big pieces.

Miles Sanders (groin), DJ Chark Jr. (hamstring), and Eddy Pineiro (groin) are dealing with injuries of their own, but it’s a different player who isn’t injured at all that is more notable — Brian Burns.

The star pass rusher sat out his second consecutive practice Monday in hopes of getting a new contract. There are concerns he might not even play in the club’s season opener in Atlanta.

After missing last Thursday, Burns sat out on Monday due to personal reasons, but Frank Reich indicated it was because of his contract dispute. The Florida State product is set to make $16 million in the final year of his rookie contract and has logged 38 sacks since Carolina drafted him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I’m not involved in the contract negotiations at all,” Reich said. “I’m just worried about getting my team ready to play Atlanta. Do I hope he is there? Absolutely I hope he is there. If he’s not there, I’m not worried about it. Just move forward.”

That’s just coach speak. Outside of Bryce Young, Brian Burns is arguably the most impactful player on the Panthers. For the Falcons, this is great news. Though Jake Matthews is a rock solid pass protector, Kaleb McGary certainly isn’t.

Moreover, Carolina just placed his backup, Marquis Haynes, on the injured reserve on Monday. However, one of his teammates is confident Burns will be out there on Sunday.

“We know he’s gonna be out there at the end of the day,” Shaq Thompson said. “He knows he’s gonna be out there at the end of the day. Everybody upstairs (in the front office) better know he better be out there by Wednesday. He’s a big factor in this defense. He’s the one it really starts with.”

The Falcons aren’t focused on anything outside of their building, but fans are and this is a situation to continue to monitor.

Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire
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