While it’s never good to miss practice, you don’t want to overreact to a player missing a Wednesday – the Panthers tend to err on the side of caution, so they’ve been consistently holding out veterans like Julius Peppers and Mike Adams on a weekly basis, sprinkling in days off for Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen and others as they make their way through the 16-week grind. But when young players like Donte Jackson, who missed almost all of Week 12 with a quad injury, and Curtis Samuel, who battled injuries for much of last season, sit out, it can be alarming.
But Jackson didn’t give us any hints as to his prognosis, as he rode the bike on the side of practice with trainers and told us in the locker room that he felt fine; take that with a grain of salt – Torrey Smith told us how spectacular he felt at least once a week while he missed a month’s worth of games. Curtis Samuel was on the practice field but didn’t participate; it will be much more important to see whether either player participates tomorrow before jumping to conclusions about who will be ready to face Tampa Bay.
If Jackson isn’t ready, the Panthers brought up cornerback Lorenzo Doss from the practice squad, who impressed the coaches during training camp.
“It’s interesting, with the situation that we’ve been with some of the injuries, only really being able to carry four corners into the game is pretty much what you typically do,” said Ron Rivera. “With Donte now and his situation, we’ve got to take a look at the possibility of carrying five now.”
“[We’ll] most certainly prepare [Doss] to play.”
As we’ve been hinting at the past couple of weeks, the Panthers announced today that they have designated safety Da’Norris Searcy to return – the 30-year old safety suffered two concussions in the span of 30 days; one during a preseason game against Miami and the second during the Panthers’ Week 2 loss in Atlanta. Searcy worked on the side during practice last week and told us that he hoped to get the chance to return, and after missing nine games, he’ll have that chance – but it’s not clear when he’ll be active and ready for game action.
“We’ll continue to give him a week to see where he is physically and then we’ll go from there,” said Rivera. “I believe we have a three-week window to make that decision; we have a couple of safeties, obviously, that are a couple of veteran guys that have been a little bit dinged up, so we’ll see.”
“We have to look at some things, obviously, but we have to see how he feels – we’ve got to be smart about it and make sure he’s ready to go physically in terms of football movements.”
The Panthers have given up an average of 387.6 yards per game through the air over the past three weeks – all losses; Searcy can be activated at any point and could play as early as this weekend as the Panthers prepare to face off with the league’s top passing offense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – they’ll need safety Eric Reid, who didn’t practice today, ready for action – Reid said he’s been battling shoulder injuries for a few weeks, but he should be ready to go for Sunday.
“The trainers decided that I could use a day off, so I’m thankful for that to make sure my body is right for Sunday,” said Reid. “I do think that I am back to where I need to be as far as being in game shape, but I’ve got to make for today because I didn’t practice – I’ve got to go harder tomorrow. They have been a little dinged up more than in past years – I’ve never had an AC joint before, but pain is something that you learn to deal with in athletics.”
The team was also without Devin Funchess, who missed all of last week’s practice with a back injury that kept him out of the matchup with Seattle, but today’s absence was due to a personal matter. The full injury report is below:
|Greg Olsen||Foot/Rest||None||Vet Day|
|Eric Reid||Shoulder||None||Said he would be fine for Sunday|
|Julius Peppers||Rest||None||"The New Normal"|
|Chris Manhertz||Ankle||None||Said in locker room that he was fine - boot on Monday was just precautionary|
|Ryan Kalil||Rest||None||Vet Day|
|Cam Newton||Right Shoulder||Limited||"The New Normal"|
|Mike Adams||Rest||None||Vet Day|