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Monday Brew: Frank Reich moving forward on a short week


CHARLOTTE – Frank Reich said he and the Panthers will be learning from what transpired in Sunday's loss to the Colts, but they're focused on moving forward.

And with a shortened week of preparation before Thursday Night Football in Chicago, that's easier to do.

"It's a fast turnaround," Reich said. "Good meetings today, a chance to kind of flush some stuff out of the system from the game yesterday and turn – quickly talk about some of the dynamics from the game, flush that out, digest it, and get us ready for this week.

"All eyes are on the Bears. Had a good walkthrough session today, thought that the focus was what it needed to be."

With all eyes on the Bears, attention turns to health – especially on defense, and especially regarding star outside linebacker Brian Burns, who left the Indianapolis game late with a concussion.

Reich indicated that the Panthers would not expect Burns to play on a short week. And with that position group already depleted by injuries, it isn't great news. (Justin Houston and Yetur Gross-Matos are on injured reserve.)

"He's our best player," Reich said. "He's a beast. So we'll miss him. But it's next man up.

"I'm not even thinking there's any chance of getting him, honestly. Even if there were, there's a part of me that, like, I can't imagine letting him out there, even if he wanted to go out there. So it'll be next man up. This has happened many times. We move on."

That could mean more snaps for second-year Amaré Barno, rookie DJ Johnson, and potentially practice squad rookie Eku Leota

The good news on Monday was that the Panthers opened veteran outside linebacker Marquis Haynes Sr.'s 21-day window to return from IR. He's missed the whole season to this point with a back injury, and Reich said he's "getting really close."

But Reich said he, general manager Scott Fitterer, and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will continue to have meetings as more tests are done to determine how long several key players are expected to be out.

Until then, it's all about moving forward with the next man up.

"Credit to EJ and the defensive staff for how they've moved those guys around, got them playing good football," Reich said. "We'll continue to do that. We'll work with the guys we got. Every man's got to be ready to go. I know they'll be ready."

– Two fresher faces on the Panthers' roster, rookie safety Alex Cook and cornerback Dicaprio Bootle, saw extended time on defense due to the bevy of injuries they've sustained through the first half of the season.

Cook played 100 percent of snaps in his NFL debut, getting time while Vonn Bell (quad) recovers and Sam Franklin Jr. spends more focus on special teams. Bootle played 69 percent in his most extensive playing time yet after starter CJ Henderson went down with a concussion in the first half.

Reich had positive words to share about them.

"They performed well," Reich said. "Bootle really did a good job. Cook also made some big plays. Young players getting an opportunity, making the most of it so that they're prepared. If it needs to be a longer role in that position, great. If it ends up, they move to a backup role, that just makes our team stronger. So credit to them for being ready and getting ready to go."

– Reich said the Panthers intend to sign veteran linebacker Blake Martinez to the practice squad.

Martinez has over 700 career tackles and 39 tackles for loss. He has playing experience with the Packers, Giants, and, most recently, the Raiders.

"He knows our defensive system; a couple of our coaches have worked with Blake before," Reich said. "Obviously, with some of our injuries, we'll take a look at that and see if that goes through, get him on the practice squad and see where it goes from there."

Reich said he watched Martinez's workout and was impressed.

"I thought he looked good," he said. "The guy's played a lot of great football. Thought he looked good in his workout, so it'll be good to get him in here."

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9.

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