Panthers 'adapting' after entering intensive protocol

Teddy Bridgewater in face shield

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers have entered intensive protocol for their practice week because of the exposure to Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson during Sunday's win in Atlanta. The Falcons placed Davidson on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday morning, Carolina has not placed a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list, making these precautionary measures.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, in consultation with the club infection control officer and medical staff, determines when teams must follow the Post Exposure COVID Procedures, as well as when they are relieved of the additional steps.

"I think it's such a serious enough topic that I don't think we have time to get frustrated with it," head coach Matt Rhule said following 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."

The Panthers had already implemented most of the intensive protocol steps in their regular weekly schedule. Still, there will be a few changes for the week of preparation for the Bears.

  • 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," Rhule said.

Rhule elected to switch the heaviest day of the practice week from Wednesday to Thursday to get players acclimated to wearing masks for the whole practice.

"It's just whatever the NFL tells us to do, we do it," running back Mike Davis said. "We don't make excuses over here."

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater elected to wear a helmet with a face shield instead of a mask. Bridgewater usually practices with a visor, but added the full face shield on Wednesday.

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

Rhule said as of now, the Panthers would be through the intensive protocol by Saturday, which means the club would complete it before playing the Bears.

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