Panthers reveal new protocols after potential COVID-19 exposure

The Carolina Panthers are proceeding with caution ahead of their Week 6 game.

The Carolina Panthers are taking more COVID-19 precautions ahead of Sunday’s home game.

Because Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davidson went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, the Panthers aren’t messing around and amped up their internal protocols. They want to ensure no potential outbreak occurs within their facility ahead of their Week 6 home game vs. the Chicago Bears. Carolina can move to 4-2 on the year with a home win over the 4-1 Bears.

“I think it’s such a serious enough topic that I don’t think we have time to get frustrated with it,” said head coach Matt Rhule after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s just a matter of adapting. I think that everything that happens, there’s always something positive that can come out of it. So we’re just trying to make the most of it and move forward.”

What are these new protocols and will they help the Panthers beat the Bears?

Per its team website, Carolina has implemented the following six new COVID-19 protocols.

  • Practice or walk-throughs can happen on the practice field or at the indoor facility, but all coaches and staff must wear masks, and all players must wear an Oakley Faceshield or mask. Players can remove their helmets for breaks but must be more than six feet away from one another.
  • Coaches may not have any in-person meetings in a room smaller than the full-team room.
    Only 10 players may work out in the weight room with a maximum of five staff members in the room.
  • The only sustained player activity inside the facility may be medical and rehab. Players may participate in outdoor rehab, but only if they’re by themselves or supervised by one therapist at an appropriate distance.
  • All players must get their COVID-19 PCR test results from the previous day before any players are permitted in the facility.
  • All meals must be grab-and-go to eliminate seating in the meal area.
  • Players can only be in the locker room for 15 minutes or less with masks worn at all times.

“All those things are minor at the expense of safety and making sure that everyone here is safe,” said Rhule. Of the six listed above, the biggest one of note is the wearing of masks or the Oakley Faceshield. Starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater says he’s going to wear the faceshield so that he can do a better job of effectively communicating with his Carolina teammates on the field.

“I’d rather just wear the helmet with the complete face shield just so I can talk better and breathe better,” said Bridgewater. “But if we have to wear them, then I’ll just wear it, especially if it’s for my own safety.”

These new protocols have been implemented as of Wednesday and will be in place through Saturday, the day before the Panthers host the Bears in Week 6. Because they began the implementation on Wednesday, Thursday will now be their more difficult day of practice, as Rhule wanted his team to get used to the new protocols before going all-in with them on Thursday.

Next: Cowboys release emotional message for Dak Prescott

Overall, Carolina has massively overachieved already this season. The Panthers won’t be the worst team in the NFC South, as that distinct honor now belongs to the flightless Falcons. Should the Panthers beat the Bears at home, we might want to start taking them seriously as a playoff team. If Chicago improves to 5-1, then we might need to look at the Bears as a strong NFC contender.

Carolina getting out ahead of this is what it will take to ensure we get to keep having football.

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