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Lots Of Injuries Riddle Panthers Before Bucs Win Streak Comes To Carolina

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By Danny Cox

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 30: Charles Johnson #95 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after sacking Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 30, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Credit, Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Defensive end Charles Johnson will sit out his second straight game for the Carolina Panthers, and that is a huge worry with some big games coming up. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to town this week, but next Sunday, they head to New Orleans to battle the NFC South-leading Saints.

Johnson’s knee sprain is a bit more serious than originally anticipated, but the team may simply want to rest him this week for next week’s showdown.

The injury report for the Panthers this week is one of the longest they’ve had all season. Offensive guard Chris Scott is also listed as out yet again while he deals with a lingering knee problem.

The already problematic running game of the Panthers is looking like it could be in worse shape than usual.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is pretty much a game-time decision, but it is likely he’ll be on the sidelines. Head coach Ron Rivera said that there are “a lot of concerns with DeAngelo.” The main issue is his quad which was hit by a helmet in the victory over Miami this past Sunday.

Carries will be split among running backs Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner along with fullback Mike Tolbert. Both Stewart (ankle) and Tolbert (knee) were limited on Wednesday but they’ll likely be on the field against the Bucs.

Combined, the Panthers backs put a lot of yards on the stat sheet along with Stewart’s scrambling ability. Individually, there are just not a lot of yards to be found for any one player.

Tight end Ben Hartsock is doubtful yet again, and the chances are not very good that he will be playing. Greg Olsen will start again as usual, and Richie Brockel will back him up.

On the offensive line, Chris Scott is out once again and will be replaced by Travis Bond with Geoff Hangartner possibly getting some reps as well.

Linebacker Chase Blackburn should be back on the field as his foot injury has healed up some, but he’s still listed as questionable. Jordan Senn will take some reps to keep the full load off of Blackburn’s return.

Finishing up the injury report are offensive tackle Jordan Gross and wide receiver Steve Smith who are listed as probable.

Gross missed Wednesday’s practice with a non-injury related situation, but was a full-go for the last two days. Smith missed Wednesday and Thursday with some soreness in his knee, but will be ready for Sunday.

Out:

  • DE Charles Johnson – Knee
  • OG Chris Scott – Knee

Doubtful:

  • TE Ben Hartsock – Knee

Questionable:

  • LB Chase Blackburn – Foot
  • RB Jonathan Stewart – Ankle
  • FB Mike Tolbert – Knee
  • RB DeAngelo Williams – Quad

Probable:

  • OT Jordan Gross – Non-Injury
  • WR Steve Smith – Knee

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.

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