Players are being warned about the risk, but the team is stopping short of the full-cleansing the New England Patriots went through after the team's co-practices with Tampa Bay, or the Georgia Dome cleaning crews that were sent to the Buccaneers' locker room after playing the Falcons in week seven.
Team doctor Robert Heyer told the Charlotte Observer about the futility of trying to eliminate MRSA:
"You cannot prevent it 100 percent. It is everywhere," Heyer said. "It is concerning because it takes longer to (treat), especially a deep-tissue infection that requires surgery. It's not going to be antibiotics for five days and you'll be back on the field. It usually takes longer than that."
Carolina's Week 8 matchup is vital in determining whether the Panthers can make a playoff push in the second half of the season, currently sitting at 3-3. A weak NFC makes it a possibility, despite a slow start. Players lost to injury or illness would be damaging, but players aren't worried. Long snapper J.J. Jansen downplayed the MRSA outbreak, trusting in the organization:
"We trust that they're taking the proper precautions," Panthers long snapper J.J. Jansen said. "I remember my first or second year in the league, we played Miami in the preseason and they had bird flu. These little things pop up."
There's a significant risk involved, despite Jansen's faith in the team. Buccaneers' kicker Lawrence Tynes has missed the 2013 season while dealing with the infection, filing a grievance with the league after being placed on Tampa Bay's "non-football injury list."
Offensive guard Carl Nicks has also been struggling with MRSA, missing the last two weeks and undergoing surgery last week to try and get rid of the infection. There is no timetable for his return and will certainly miss Thursday night's game.
Teams have medical staff on retainer for precisely these kind of judgement calls, but it would be interesting to see how the Panthers' diagnosis of the situation differs from that of doctors in New England and Atlanta, where both teams took extra steps to prevent an outbreak.