By Ted Fleming
The Carolina Panthers head to Buffalo for a Week 2 matchup against the new look Bills and they will be without a key player in running back Kenjon Barner, otherwise they are in pretty good shape. Backup corner James Dockery is the only other player listed as out.
Barner is not a surprise after he missed the opener with a foot injury. He was supposed to be DeAngelo Williams’ running mate after Jonathan Stewart went on the PUP list, but for the second week in a row Armond Smith will see additional playing time in Barner’s place. The Panthers could also use a bull-rush approach and go with a pair of fullbacks using Mike Tolbert and Richie Brockel in the same backfield. While they have yet to use that kind of formation, Carolina found that they do have ground game in their Week 1 loss to a solid Seahawks defense. That bodes well for this game against the Bills.
Jon Beason only played four games a year ago because of knee issues and he looked like a no-go most of the week, but jumped to probable from Thursday to Friday and it could be a game time decision whether he will play and how much. Jordan Senn is ready to go although head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott could mix-and-match depending on the circumstances, using Chase Blackburn or A.J. Klein in different roles.
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) is banged up so expect to see Kawann Short spelling him more than usual.
The Buffalo Bills, on the other hand, are a mess with five players out including starting DB Stephon Gilmore and kicker Dustin Hopkins.
Gilmore (wrist), a South Carolina Gamecocks alum, would have been backed up by Ron Brooks, but he too will miss Sunday’s game. Third stringer Nickell Robey is next up, but how the Bills counter a number of quality Carolina receivers – Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Greg Olsen just to name four – could be a bigger task than trying to figure out how to stop Cam Newton and the Panthers ground game.
Buffalo has a backup kicker in Dan Carpenter who was 3-3 on points after last Sunday. He has yet to attempt a field goal after subbing for Hopkins. He was 127-155 (81.9 percent) in five years with the Dolphins before joining the Bills with a long of 60 in 2010.
The Bills will have a depth problem on Sunday and that could hurt them more than anything else. The Panthers defense is one of the best in the league and the offense was one deep ball from coming in at 1-0 instead of the other way around.
The following is the injury report issued on Friday by the National Football League for the Panthers-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo on Sunday, September 15, 2013:
CAROLINA PANTHERS 0-1:
RB Kenjon Barner (Foot)
CB James Dockery (Thumb)
LB Jon Beason (Knee)
DT Dwan Edwards (Thigh)
TE Ben Hartsock (Foot)
WR Domenik Hixon (Hamstring)
S Mike Mitchell (Calf)
G Amini Silatolu (Hamstring)
BUFFALO BILLS 0-1:
CB Ron Brooks (Foot)
DB Stephon Gilmore (Wrist)
WR Marquise Goodwin (Hand)
K Dustin Hopkins (Right Groin)
C/G Doug Legursky (Knee)
FS Jairus Byrd (Foot)
Out: there is no chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Doubtful: a 25% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Questionable: a 50% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Probable: a 75% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.