The Panthers are riding the kind of natural high associated with their first winning streak of the season, and one player has been instrumental in that success. Thomas Davis has come back from injuries that would have sent others into retirement, and along with his off-field charity and volunteer work, he now has the honor of being the Panthers’ nominee for a very significant award named after an NFL legend.
The way they have been playing of late the Panthers were probably looking forward to taking on the reeling Chargers. That is, until the Friday injury report put them behind the eight-ball with eight starters on it, three definitely out and possibly two more ready to join them.
In a season chocked full of rookie sensations, one is rapidly climbing the Defensive Rookie of the Year ladder. Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the league in tackles, just like he led the nation at Boston College, and despite the Panthers losing record, he could get serious consideration for the top first year player award. Carolina is also knee deep in players on injured reserve.
In a season filled with injuries, the Panthers are very used to saying, “Next man up.” This week is no different as they have to replace their number one back and number two receiver as they host the 11-1 Falcons who are in a lot better shape, physically.
The Panthers have had their fair share of injuries this season, so once again they have to reach into their bag of reserves and pluck out second-year tackle Sione Fua to take over for Ron Edwards, who is gone for the season with a dislocated elbow. Meanwhile, running back DeAngelo Williams is getting the reps while Jonathan Stewart nurses his second high ankle injury of the year.
If the Panthers are to get their third win of the season this may be the weekend to do it even though they will be playing on the road. The Eagles are arguably the worst team in the league and things don’t get any better for them with two of their offensive stars sitting this one out.
Injuries should not play a major part in the final meeting of the year between the Buccaneers and Panthers this Sunday at Bank of American Stadium as only one player is listed as out. However, the Buccaneers have a concern at guard with starter Jamon Meredith hobbled with an ankle injury.
Jeremy Bridges has yet to play a game this season but Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera believes he is exactly the right man to plug at least one hole in a porous offensive line. If the name sounds familiar, Bridges was a member of the Panthers from 2006-08 and if he is good to go, he could slide right in as a starter.
Cam Newton may have caught a break when he faces the Broncos this Sunday as starting cornerback Tracy Porter will miss his fourth straight game due to an illness. The Panthers may have to open up the playbook to keep pace with Denver QB Peyton Manning and Newton could take advantage of Porter’s absence.
Despite their win over the Redskins, the Panthers took their lumps last Sunday which included kick return specialist Kealoha Pilares being lost for the season. Once again it is next man up and this time it is David Gettis who will see his first regular season action since 2010.