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Notebook: Frank Reich has "highest regard" for Brian Burns

Brian Burns, Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE — Panthers head coach Frank Reich said that outside linebacker Brian Burns was in the building and going through meetings but did not participate in Monday's walk-through because of a "personal matter."

That's the same language Reich used last Thursday when Burns watched practice in sweats from the sidelines. The team has been talking to Burns about a contract extension, but nothing has been finalized as the season approaches.

Reich has praised Burns' leadership all offseason, when he has been an active participant since recovering from an ankle procedure, and said Monday nothing that's happening now changes that view.

"I appreciate you asking that question because my view of Brian Burns doesn't diminish at all," Reich said. "I mean, we understand there's a business side to this thing we do, and I still respect and admire the way he's handled himself.

"So I have nothing but the highest regard for Brian Burns."

Burns didn't talk to reporters in the locker room Monday, stepping into the athletic training room as they approached. But teammates haven't noticed any differences.

"Same old Burns," outside linebacker Marquis Haynes Sr. said. Linebacker Shaq Thompson said he expected to see Burns on the practice field Wednesday, the first main day of preparation for the opener at Atlanta this weekend.

Reich said he's kept his focus there and, other than one conversation with Burns about the contract, has kept their interactions on football matters. Asked if he was concerned that Burns might not play this week, Reich said: "I think you have to prepare for all options."

If he doesn't play, the group including Justin Houston, Yetur Gross-Matos, Amaré Barno, and rookie DJ Johnson will need to pick up the slack since veteran Marquis Haynes Sr. was placed on IR Monday. That's where Reich was keeping his attention, knowing the realities of the business of football.

"You can't find a more of a team guy than him," Reich said of Burns. "But life is complicated; sometimes it gets complicated. So, you know, we just keep moving forward day by day."

— Speaking of Haynes, the veteran pass-rusher called the back issue that landed him on injured reserve "a minor setback" after he missed most of training camp.

"I just needed a little more time," Haynes said.

He'll have at least another four weeks, as players who go on IR after the cut to 53 can return later in the season.

Reich said the fact Haynes missed so much time in camp allowed them to get more reps for players such as Barno and Johnson. So even though they were hoping Haynes would be back, the extra work is helpful now that they know he'll be absent for a bit.

"I mean, it's just the next man up, really; you have to take that mentality," Reich said. "This league hardens you; it hardens you, right? Life hardens you; you go through a lot, and we've all been through this before.

"So, I think it does help that he hasn't practiced (much); this isn't an all of a sudden thing."

— Reich was asked about depth chart considerations and said he'd offer more clarity on Wednesday.

The one outstanding vacancy appears to be at right guard, where rookie Chandler Zavala started the preseason finale there.

With starter Austin Corbett remaining on the physically unable to perform list, there's an opening there for at least the first four weeks.

View TopCat photos from the final preseason matchup versus the Detroit Lions

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