Carolina Panthers players sent home after 'somewhat significant' number of positive COVID-19 tests

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers sent players home on Monday after a "somewhat significant'' number of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Those added to the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday were defensive ends Brian Burns and Marquis Haynes Sr., defensive tackles Phil Hoskins and Daviyon Nixon, linebacker Shaq Thompson, and center Matt Paradis. Nixon and Paradis already were on IR.

That brings the total to 14 Panthers, including eight who already were on the list going into Sunday's 32-6 loss to Tampa Bay.

Rhule did note that several positions have been impacted and that the organization is looking at options to sign potential replacements for Sunday's 4:25 p.m. ET game at New Orleans.

"We brought guys in last week and they had COVID,'' Rhule said. "They tested negative at their previous spot and had COVID when they got here. It's kind of a unique puzzle.

"But yes, we're exploring any and all options to make sure we have a full team that can go play Sunday as well as we possibly can.''

Because players were sent home and Rhule hasn't had a chance to meet with his quarterbacks, he opted not to name a starter for Sunday until Wednesday, at which point he will be "definitive.''

Cam Newton fell to 0-5 as the starter on Sunday. Sam Darnold, the only Carolina quarterback under contract in 2022, finished the game.

Rhule said coaches remained at the stadium on Monday but will work from their offices.

Panthers that were on the COVID-19 list on Sunday were: wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, center Pat Elflein, offensive lineman Dennis Daley, defensive ends Austin Larkin and Azur Kamara, safety Sam Franklin and quarterback Matt Barkley.