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Notebook: Brian Burns "hasn't made himself a distraction," Frank Reich says

Brian Burns

CHARLOTTE – Outside linebacker Brian Burns remained in the building, attended meetings, and participated in Wednesday's practice, after not taking part the last two sessions with what coach Frank Reich termed a "personal matter."

Burns didn't speak to reporters as he and the team continue to have discussions about a contract extension, though nothing has been finalized. He sat in his spot in the locker room for a portion of the period open to the media.

Reich said during his press conference before practice that he has had discussions with Burns, and that the two-time Pro Bowler (and one of six newly-announced team captains this season) is focused on getting ready for himself and the team to have the "best season possible."

And throughout all of it swirling on the outside, Reich said Burns hasn't created a distraction for the team as they prepare for Week 1 at Atlanta this Sunday.

"Thirty years in this business, this is par for the course, these things; it's the NFL," Reich said. "I've been a part of a lot of different situations as a player and as a coach. I'm just interested in what's best for the team and for the player; I think those things can both be true. You understand both sides of the equation. That's how I feel.

"But at the same time, the one thing that really speaks to all of us, I really believe, is we understand we have to find a way to compartmentalize certain things and minimize distractions. To Brian's credit, he hasn't made himself a distraction. I respect him a lot for the way he's handled that. He's done everything he can to not make himself a distraction to this team. And that's just evidence to the kind of leader he is."

The Panthers have two more open practices before Sunday's game, and Burns has continued to go through his regular routine during the work day.

Reich commended him for his demeanor through it all.

"He's been in the building, he's in there lifting weights, he's in meetings," Reich said. "He's not been a distraction. He's missed a couple of practices. (But) he's been a complete pro."

– Burns was one of six captains voted on by his teammates. This will be Burns' third straight year in the role, and it'll also be the third consecutive season for right tackle Taylor Moton, who was also voted to be a captain.

Shaq Thompson is also a team captain for a fourth season, while three of the six captains are newcomers to the role here – quarterback Bryce Young, wide receiver Adam Thielen, and punter Johnny Hekker.

"(We're) excited about those six guys being captains," Reich said. "Good guys, good leaders, and good players."

– Multiple Panthers have changed numbers ahead of Week 1, while a host of recently acquired players received their numbers.

Among the changes are cornerback Troy Hill moving from 33 to 13; offensive lineman Cade Mays went from 66 to 68, rookie guard Nash Jensen went from 67 to 66; defensive tackle LaBryan Ray went from 67 to 93; defensive end Nick Thurman went from 76 to 91.

New cornerback D'Shawn Jamison is in 29; linebacker Claudin Cherelus is in 53; offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton is in 76.

On the practice squad, running back Jashaun Corbin is in 28; tackle David Sharpe is in 74; wide receiver Dezmon Patmon is in 86.

– Rookie guard Chandler Zavala has officially earned the bid for starting right guard, as Reich confirmed his spot following the team's unofficial depth chart adjustments before Week 1.

Zavala played the starting role in the final two preseason games, and that carried over while Austin Corbett continues to recover from an ACL injury sustained in last year's season finale.

View photos of the Panthers' practice on Wednesday.

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