Bryce Young is set to have a veteran receiving presence for his NFL debut, but whether or not Carolina's star defender is available remains to be seen.
While it remains unclear if Burns will suit up, his presence alone allows for at least a chance at him playing. Panthers head coach Frank Reich on Friday said he had "no updates" on Burns' status for Sunday, but Carolina's star pass rusher did return to practice this week after missing the first couple sessions.
Burns is coming off a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2022, and is the heartbeat of a Panthers defense that portends to be the team's strength in 2023.
Thielen's availability is a plus for a Panthers receiving corps that is already without DJ Chark (hamstring) in Week 1. Young's remaining options at wideout for Sunday are Laviska Shenault Jr., Terrace Marshall Jr., Ihmir Smith-Marsette and rookie Jonathan Mingo -- an inexperienced group that's brimming with talent.
Carolina brought in Thielen this offseason to be that experienced brain its young WR room can pick at in 2023. His reliable presence also figures to help Young, 2023's No. 1 overall pick, as the Panthers quarterback is set to make his NFL debut on the road against an NFC South rival.
Thielen, a 33-year-old veteran of nine seasons, had 70 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season in Minnesota.
As the Panthers are set begin a new era under Reich and Young on Sunday, there remains an outside chance Burns will be a part of it.