Entering Week 13, the Panthers had already placed three starters – Cam Newton, Graham Gano and Kawann Short – on injured reserve this season, sending six Pro Bowls, four Player of the Month awards and 13 Players of the Week awards between them to the sidelines.
After a disastrous game in New Orleans, the team announced Wednesday that they will add two more names to that list.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe, whose four sacks through 11 games were the most since his 2014 season, the last time he went to the Pro Bowl, and Greg Van Roten, who had started 27 straight games for the Panthers at left guard and was the only player to take 100% of the snaps in 2018, will head to IR, ending their season.
Dontari Poe reportedly had surgery to repair a torn quad muscle and Van Roten has a foot injury that was originally diagnosed as a toe.
— Greg Van Roten (@GVR64) November 27, 2019
The injuries throw the future into question for both players – Van Roten’s contract is up at the end of the season and rookie Dennis Daley has already shown the ability to play left guard in addition to the left tackle role he has been thrust into this season, while Poe – who signed a three-year, $28m deal before last season – can be released after the season and grant the Panthers $10m in cap relief. Poe plays the nose tackle in the three-man front the Panthers have used for much of the season and has been on the field for just over 50% of the snaps thus far in 2019.
Both players will be 30 when next season begins.
While their presence on the field will clearly be missed – Van Roten was consistently praised by the coaching staff for his play amidst turbulence on the line as injuries and poor play have seen four players, including two rookies, rotate through the left tackle spot next to the veteran – their leadership in the locker room will be just as hard to replace. Although quiet, Poe was pointed to as a leader by players young and old in the locker room.
“Me and Poe are the same,” said Shaq Thompson last week. “We don’t say much, we just get it done on the field.”
“Poe is not a big talker, but he does a good job of leading by example,” Gerald McCoy said after Sunday’s game. “Showing up on gameday, showing up to practice, doing his job – he doesn’t give anybody a hard time, he just does. To lose a guy like that, it’s tough – it hurts because that is one of your brothers.”
“More importantly than what we lose on the football field [is we lose] him as a man, he’s a great man and a great person for the locker room.”
The Panthers have signed defensive tackles Woodrow Hamilton, who was with the Panthers during the preseason, and six-year veteran Stacy McGee, who has played in 75 regular season games with 29 starts in his career, totaling 116 tackles and four sacks, to fill the roster spots.