Panthers won’t let COVID be a distraction as they prepare for the Saints

Panthers won’t let COVID be a distraction as they prepare for the Saints
Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater talking to Panthers great Luke Kuechly at Panthers first televised practice in the 2020 season (Source: WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers started on-field prep work for Sunday’s game at the New Orleans Saints after working virtually on Monday and Tuesday.

The team decided to work from home the first 2 days this week after an unconfirmed COVID test result.

Late yesterday, Carolina put offensive lineman Mike Schofield on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Today, they added 2 more to that list-- kicker Joey Slye and offensive lineman Trent Scott.

The Panthers also remain in intensive protocols.

Last week under those protocols, coach Matt Rhule didn’t put his team through a full pad workout because he didn’t want them to have to wear a mask while in full gear. The lack of a physical practice showed up in their game this past Sunday against the Chicago Bears as they lost 23-16 and just looked out of sync from the word go. Today, it was back to basic for the Panthers.

“We were in full pads,” said coach Rhule. “We were physical. They practiced hard. I think for us we just had to get back to our roots a little bit. Hopefully it translates up front this weekend.”

Another potential distraction this week could be the fact that this is a rivalry game with the Saints. Coach is hoping that is not the case especially for guys like offensive coordinator Joe Brady, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and cornerback Eli Apple who spent time with New Orleans.

“I think history tells most of our guys that when they are playing someone they have a really strong connection to, they start to do different things and they don’t play their best," said coach. “So the connections are there. I know it’s a great story line, but for me, I just want our guys to go out and do our thing especially coming off of last week.”

For Bridgewater, his first meeting against his former team brings new circumstances. In his 2 years as a Saints back up QB, he couldn’t get hit in practices, but now, he is free game.

“They have some guys who I may have been off limits when I was there,” said Bridgewater with a smile on his face and a chuckle. “We just want to go out there and just play the game the way we know out to play it and not get caught up in the moment.”

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