Panthers Healthy And Ready For NFC South Battle With Saints
By Danny Cox
If the New Orleans Saints defeat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, they will capture the NFC South and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Panthers have to win to stay alive in their division and also in a playoff race that does not yet have them guaranteed for a spot. Luckily, the injury report for this week’s game is very short and there doesn’t appear to be a lot to worry about.
Only one player is listed as out for the game with the Saints and that is running back Jonathan Stewart. He’s still got a lingering knee problem that has hampered him for months and he didn’t practice at all this past week.
DeAngelo Williams will once again be the primary back with Mike Tolbert getting a number of carries as well. Everyone else on the report is listed as probable and will be on the field as needed this Sunday. One of the biggest concerns this week has been wide receiver Steve Smith. At the end of practice on Wednesday, Smith jammed his finger. He was not in pads at all on Thursday, but he did practice on a limited basis on Friday.
Head coach Ron Rivera said from the very beginning that the injury wasn’t a big problem, but he did rest Smith a good bit of practice for the rest of the week. On Thursday, Rivera did say that Smith would be on the field against the Saints.
A few other Panthers are still nursing injuries they’ve dealt with for a few weeks, but they will be ready to play on Sunday. Offensive tackle Jordan Gross missed practice on Wednesday for a non-injury related reason so he isn’t a worry. The same can be said for offensive guard Travelle Wharton. Tight end Greg Olsen also missed practice on Wednesday as he is dealing with a foot problem. Olsen was on the field and a full-go at practice on Thursday and Friday so there are no concerns there either. Backup tight end Brandon Williams has a hip injury that limited him at practice much of this week, but he’ll be ready to go on Sunday, too.
The Carolina Panthers are very healthy right now and it is happening at the perfect time as they need every available player for this final run of the regular season. With so much resting on the game with the Saints, the Panthers have got to play like the team that had an eight-game winning streak earlier in the year.
- RB Jonathan Stewart – Knee
- T Jordan Gross – Non-Injury
- TE Greg Olsen – Foot
- WR Steve Smith – Finger
- G Travelle Wharton – Non-Injury
- TE Brandon Williams – Hip
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.