By Danny Cox
With a loss by the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons playing so poorly, the Carolina Panthers need a victory to stay in contention in the NFC South. Last week’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings was not only impressive, but also sent a message as well.
Now, they’re back at home after a two-game road trip and will welcome the hot St. Louis Rams into Bank of America Stadium. The Rams just easily beat the Jaguars and then demolished the Houston Texans, but they’re about go up against a very healthy Carolina Panthers team.
Offensively, the Panthers are looking about as good as a team possibly could.
Tight end Greg Olsen was the biggest concern at the beginning of the week as he sat out of practice on Wednesday with a foot injury. He was limited in practice on Thursday and then practiced fully on Friday. He’s going to be in the starting line-up on Sunday without any question.
Rookie running back Kenjon Barner is also dealing with a foot issue, but he should be ready to go on Sunday, too.
The Panthers have been wrestling with the thought of bringing Jonathan Stewart back into the line-up. His nagging ankle injury had him sidelined for the first six games of the season, but Barner’s injury not being too severe could mean that Stewart sits at least one more game and Barner backs up DeAngelo Williams.
While the Panthers aren’t necessarily in a lot of trouble on the other side of the ball, defensively is where they are hurting a little bit more.
Reserve cornerback D.J. Moore is listed as out for Sunday as he is also dealing with a foot injury. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as Josh Norman and Drayton Florence can immediately back-up starters Josh Thomas and Captain Munnerlyn.
Starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards is doubtful against the Rams with a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice entirely for two days this week. The only day he stepped on the field was on Thursday and it was in a limited capacity.
Kawann Short should start in his place with Sione Fua acting as the back-up.
Back-up safety Robert Lester has a bit of a hamstring strain, but he will be available to back-up Quintin Mikell as needed as he practiced fully all week.
Cornerback Melvin White suffered a concussion and only practiced in full on Friday. He did pass all concussion protocol tests though and will be ready to play on Sunday.
The Panthers could very well get to .500 and hold tightly onto second place in the NFC South. A healthy roster combined with play like they had against the Vikings last week and Carolina could be on a two-game winning streak.
- CB D.J. Moore – Foot
- DT Dwan Edwards – Hamstring
- RB Kenjon Barner – Foot
- S Robert Lester – Hamstring
- TE Greg Olsen – Foot
- CB Melvin White – Concussion
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.