And Panthers head coach Matt Rhule wants to make sure his voice is heard, in trying to protect them.
Burns got an MRI on an ankle injury Monday, and Rhule didn't have an update on his status when he talked to reporters.
Early in the game, Jones got ahold of Burns' ankle after a strip-sack. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said during a radio appearance Monday morning he thought Jones thought Burns had the ball and was trying to make a tackle on the play (though Frankie Luvu had recovered the ball downfield). Jones said something similar in a radio appearance Monday afternoon.
Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson didn't buy that explanation.
"I just turned around and saw Burns down grabbing his ankle, so I didn't even go celebrate with Frankie. I went to check on my brother to see if he was all right," Thompson said. "That was some BS on Mac Jones' part, and hopefully the league they fine him or something like that. We don't need that in this type of league. If we all claim we're brothers and part of this NFL shield, we don't need to try to hurt another player."
Rhule said he couldn't speak to Jones' intent, but he wanted to make sure to defend his players at every turn.
"My job on game day is to defend our players," Rhule said. "What I don't want to be is the Carolina Panthers who everybody gets to hit out of bounds, and horse collar and turn their ankles late, and nothing ever gets called. I look like a madman on the sidelines. If that's what it takes, I'm going to sit there and defend our players to the officials the entire game. We have an excellent sideline, we don't have a lot of players yapping at officials, or coaches. I do it. I try to defend our guys. . . .
"I love Mac Jones, tremendous competitor. I have no idea what was in his brain, and I'm not here to talk about that. But I am here to defend our guys. We can't get guys hurt after the play."
NEXT MAN UP
But in Moton's world, he has a very narrow view of what he can do to fix it.
"I do what I can to protect the quarterback," he said. "I want to do everything in my power to make him comfortable back there so he can make his best decisions. Obviously, the more comfortable a quarterback is in the pocket, the more apt he is to make better decisions. So I just do everything I can to play my role so he can play to the best of his ability."
Moton's been the one constant on the line this year, starting every game (though he did move to left tackle against the Eagles). And with center Matt Paradis out for the year with a torn ACL, the Panthers know they'll have their seventh different combination of starting offensive linemen in 10 games this week.
"Matt's a tremendous leader, tremendous communicator and player, and very, very intelligent guy," Moton said. "He's done a lot to make sure we're all on the right guys, and doing and going where we're supposed to go. It's a huge blow, but ultimately, I have faith in everyone in the room, and I believe the next man up mentality and the next guy will play, and we'll do everything we can to make sure he's prepared through the week, so as a front we're all as prepared as we can be."
IN IT TOGETHER
Outside linebacker Haason Reddick said Sunday he didn't want to take questions about the offense, and Thompson said Monday he wasn't worried about any divisions happening in the locker room because one side of the ball was performing better than the other.
"It's never going to be no finger-pointing," Thompson said. "We're going to stay together. We're in this together; we're brothers. They got our back; we got their back, and we're going to get this thing going."
View all of the best photos from pre-game, in-game and post-game from Carolina's game against New England.