Panthers Missing Key Offensive Weapons For Finale Against Falcons
By Danny Cox
Last week, the Carolina Panthers seriously helped their case for a better playoff seed and so much more when they defeated the New Orleans Saints on a comeback drive. They’ve still got work to do though, and they can’t just sit back and let the final game of the season come and go without putting it all out there.
With a trip to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the regular season finale, the Panthers have a chance of becoming the number overall seed in the NFC side of the playoffs. They also have the possibility of dropping to the fifth or sixth seed if they’re not careful.
That being said, the Panthers can’t play loosely against the Falcons just because they already have a playoff berth locked up. Even more so, they’re going to have to have some players play even harder as they fill in for some missing leaders.
Wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a knee injury against the Saints last week, and he ended up heading back to the locker room in the first half. He tried coming back out, but only got into the game for one more play before sitting out the rest. He won’t be playing this week at all.
Smith’s knee kept him out of practice the entire week and he is officially listed as out against the Falcons. Ted Ginn Jr. is expected to slide into the starting wide receiver spot opposite Brandon LaFell.
Domenik Hixon and Marvin McNutt will serve as the third and fourth receivers.
Running back Jonathan Stewart will sit out once again as he has for the majority of the season. Like Smith, his knee injury kept him out of practice all week as well. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will once again be the primary backs.
Defensive tackle Colin Cole also suffered a calf injury against the Saints last week and missed most of the game. His injury was enough to sideline him all week and he’ll be out against the Falcons. Cole is a back-up lineman who will see Sione Fua move up the depth chart in his absence.
The Panthers are otherwise healthy with just a few bumps and bruises here and there.
Safety Robert Lester has a tweaked ankle, but he’ll be fine. The same can be said for quarterback Cam Newton as he was a full-go at practice all week.
Carolina is looking good heading into Atlanta, but they have got to work to make up for a few key losses and not let things get ahead of them when facing the Falcons.
- WR Steve Smith – Knee
- RB Jonathan Stewart – Knee
- DT Colin Cole – Calf
- S Robert Lester – Ankle
QB Cam Newton – Ankle
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.