By Ted Fleming
When the final gun sounds on the final game of the year, the Panthers’ roster could look very different from the one that opened 2012. A number of starters have missed their fair share of games and most of them have managed to find their way back into the lineup at one point or another. Unfortunately, some have their seasons cut short prematurely and will have to wait until next summer before they can suit up again.
Carolina has five games under their belt so far and they have already sent seven players to injured reserve. The latest came Wednesday when it was announced that special teams linebacker Kenny Onatolu will miss the remainder of the season with a torn triceps muscle.
Onatolu was signed as a free agent in March after spending the previous three seasons with the Vikings where he played in every regular season game. This year he played in four of the Panthers five contests recording five tackles, one resulting in a safety against the Seahawks in the game before the bye.
That was not the only news to come out of Wednesday’s practice as wide receiver David Gettis could be nearing his first game action since the 2010 season. The former 6th round pick out of Baylor has been on the reserve/physically unable to perform list with a hamstring issue since training camp and now that he has returned to practice the Panthers have three weeks to figure out if they want to add him to the 53-man roster.
“David looked good,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “He ran well. He’s a big target. He seemed pretty good for the wear. He got in a lot of good work today, so we’re pretty excited. This week, for the most part, is about continuing to condition him and see how he is come Friday after practice, but in all likelihood we’ll be looking toward next week. We’re working him a lot, trying to get him as many snaps and reps as possible to see how he is and how he reacts. He could be a guy who can help us.”
Gettis, 25, played in every game as a rookie catching 37 passes for 508 yards (13.7 average) with three touchdowns but missed all of 2011 with a left knee injury. At 6-foot-3, 220-pounds, he could be that extra target quarterback Cam Newton needs if there is any hope of turning his and the team’s season around.
Other transactions: Cornerback Ron Parker was promoted from the practice squad to replace Onatolu on the roster. Now in his second season with his third different club, the Beaufort, SC native saw his only action of the year against the Seahawks recording one tackle. In 2011 he split time with Oakland and Seattle.
Practice notes: Linebacker Jon Beason continues to be hobbled by a sore knee and did not participate in any activities on Wednesday ….. Defensive end Antwan Applewhite (knee) was limited while cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder), guard Geoff Hangartner (knee) and safety Colin Jones (shoulder) all had a full workout.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.