CHARLOTTE - In hindsight, Brian Burns' Week 1 performance against the Falcons keeps getting better.
And he said Saturday he's planning to keep his focus on football and continue to build on that hot start.
The Panthers outside linebacker was all over the place early against the Falcons last week, and thanks to a stat change by the league, his 1.5-sack debut is now a 2.0-sack game, a nice way to start the season. But for Burns, the stat's not a motivating factor as much as improving his own play on the field, and that means putting the contract talk that dominated the first week in the rear-view mirror.
"I would say it's in the back (of my mind), but like way, way, way in the back," Burns said Saturday.
There was a bit of will-he-or-won't-he speculation leading into the Falcons game, but Burns said his priority was on playing and helping his teammates despite the lack of a new deal, and he described those talks as "on hold."
"We haven't really been in talks because I already told them, once the season starts, I'm all about ball," Burns said. . . .
"My main thing has always been to level up my game and really dominate games, and that's all my focus is on."
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- Panthers head coach Frank Reich said Saturday that Cade Mays would start at one guard spot this week, though he didn't want to specify which one.
There was a vacancy when left guard Brady Christensen was lost to a season-ending biceps injury (he had surgery earlier this week). Rookie Chandler Zavala started at right guard last week after Mays took most of the offseason work there during OTAs.
Zavala played primarily on the left at N.C. State, where he was next to once-again teammate Ikem Ekwonu.
- Reich said that while Christensen's injury was season-ending, there was hope that cornerback Jaycee Horn would return sometime after the four weeks he's required to miss after being placed on injured reserve Friday.
"I don't know the exact timetable," Reich said. "But we are optimistic that we had a chance of getting him back this season and to help us this year."
Horn had a "procedure" this week as well, and Burns said that after talking to his friend who sits in the locker next to his, he got the impression Horn was "in high spirits." While there's an obvious disappointment for Horn dealing with another injury, Burns said they've tuned out the external criticism of Horn as injury-prone.
"Of course, I feel bad for him because I got love for him," Burns said. "But from the injury-prone standpoint and all that, it's just he-said-she-said. He has certain injuries that you can't even control. But from that standpoint, I try to tell him not to focus on that. You know what I'm saying?
"Like we know the type of player he is, and we know what he brings to the game."