By Ted Fleming
It seems to be one of those years that the Panthers cannot get through a week without someone going on injured reserve. The latest casualty is Kealoha Pilares, who hurt his right shoulder on a third-quarter kickoff return in Sunday’s victory over the Redskins.
Pilares was the team’s primary returner in 2011 but opened this season behind Joe Adams. He reclaimed his spot when the rookie fumbled away his job after just three games. Despite averaging 23.1 yards a return, Adams has been inactive the last five games.
“The MRI revealed a tear in the rotator cuff,” said head coach Ron Rivera on Wednesday about the injury to Pilares. “He also had a tear in the labrum. [The doctors] will have to repair that and they will do that next week I believe.”
To replace Pilares on the roster, the Panthers activated wide receiver David Gettis for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2010. The 25-year-old out of Baylor tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during last year’s training camp and missed the entire season. He was on the physically unable to perform list this season because of a nagging hamstring problem.
The Panthers had until Tuesday to make a decision on Gettis, and if they did not activate him by then, the team would have had to shut him down for the second straight season. Not only was there a roster spot open, but he will also get the opportunity to step in for Pilares immediately.
“Right now with the spot we’re probably going to fill it with David (Gettis) and see how he does in terms of helping our offense,” Rivera said. While not indicating if Adams will be active against the Broncos this weekend, he seemed to leave the door open. “The one thing Joe does is he is more explosive as a punt returner so we’ll see as far as that is concerned.”
Armanti Edwards, who had a huge 82-yard reception in the victory over the Redskins, also has return experience and could see some action.
Wednesday’s practice notes: The following players did not participate in any activity on Wednesday – DE Antwan Applewhite (hamstring), LB Thomas Davis (knee), DT Dwan Edwards (ankle), T Jordan Gross (not injury related), C Geoff Hangartner (knee), DE Charles Johnson (hip), DE Thomas Keiser (elbow), RB Mike Tolbert (head).
“Antwan was still [out] because of the hamstring, it was pretty bad,” Rivera said. “Thomas Davis was more of a rest period, I think Dwan Edwards was rest as was Jordan [Gross]. Geoff [Hangartner]with the knee was obviously no different that he had last week. Charles Johnson came up lame, he thinks he caught an elbow on the hip and it’s been bothering him the last couple of days. He actually felt better today, but we thought we would give him a break too. Thomas Keiser, the elbow is still bothering him and Mike Tolbert got the nick in the game.”
Other transactions: Center Thomas Austin was signed to the practice squad and terminating rookie linebacker Jerry Franklin.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.