Source: Panthers to fine players for virus issues

Source: Panthers to fine players for virus issues

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  • Jeremy FowlerESPN Staff Writer

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    • ESPN staff writer
    • Previously a college football reporter for CBSSports.com
    • University of Florida graduate

The Carolina Panthers are expected to hand out fines of at least $10,000 to players who broke COVID-19 protocols during the bye week, a league source told ESPN.

On Monday, the team placed eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list — wide receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, defensive tackles Derrick Brown and Zach Kerr, linebacker Shaq Thompson, tackle Greg Little, punter Michael Palardy (injured reserve) and wide receiver Ishmael Hyman (practice squad/COVID-19).

Some of those players gathered outside of the team facility. The NFL and NFLPA COVID-19 protocols state that players are prohibited from gathering outside of the facility or team travel. All parties are reminded that violations can result in discipline.

The Panthers worked with the NFL this week on preventing COVID-19 spread, and players were able to practice leading up to Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. Six of the players from the reserve list have been activated and are set to play. Moore and Kerr remain on the list.

The Panthers could face NFL discipline. Last month, the league fined the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints $500,000 apiece and stripped them of sixth- and seventh-round draft picks, respectively, for breaking protocol. The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans face $350,000 fines for violations but not the loss of draft picks. The NFL typically reviews a team’s protocols any time that two or more players go on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Carolina is not the first to fine its players over COVID-19 concerns. Last week, Broncos coach Vic Fangio announced all four of his quarterbacks — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Jeff Driskel and Blake Bortles — would be fined for not wearing masks at the facility. The breaking of protocol left Denver without a legitimate quarterback for its Week 12 loss to the Saints.

Players can appeal their fines.

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