Black and Blue Injury Report Week 5
It’s been a solemn week for Panthers news as the team finds themselves black and blue for more reasons than one. Not only are they hurting but they are possibly bluer than usual after a week of significantly bad press. Everything seems to be going wrong for the Panthers as the injuries pile up. This past week featured disappointing news with our starting running back DeAngelo Williams tweeting an image of his ankle in a cast after we just got him back from missing two games with an altogether different injury. If that wasn’t bad enough, on Wednesday fan favorite former Panther Steve Smith threw stones in a glass house with a very discouraging radio interview only three days removed from torching us with an impressive performance on gameday. On the same day the Panthers were faced with another dilemma as DE Frank Alexander received a second suspension from the league barely 48 hours removed from being reinstated after serving a four game suspension. His presence could have been helpful at a position that has suddenly become one of the thinnest on the team. On Thursday the Panthers fielded so few DEs at practice they were forced to fill in with DTs and a LB to prepare for the game this weekend. One of the DEs missing in action is still Greg Hardy, who reportedly is using his time off to work on his rap career. Also hitting headlines this week was Cam Newton opening up about his ankle surgery in a story that couldn’t help but break down hopes that we would see the Cam of old any time soon this season. As the Panthers continue to struggle both on and off the field there hasn’t been a more fitting time for the words of the late Sam Mills.
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Yes Panther fans things look grim, it’s been a rough week and there is a rough game rapidly approaching to boot. This is a time for the team and fans alike to KEEP POUNDING! That’s what Panthers do they KEEP POUNDING and come game time tomorrow the Panthers will have to do so in order to overcome the adversity they have faced this week. When they take the field to face the visiting Chicago Bears these are the players from both teams who will be playing through the pain or sitting out altogether.
For another week it just makes more sense to go over these guys as a group rather than individually as so many of them are hurt. After getting off to a good start last week DeAngelo Williams left the game early with what was listed officially as a high ankle sprain. There was optimism at first until DeAngelo Williams tweeted a picture of his daughter signing the pink cast he now has his ankle encased in. While he should recover in a matter of weeks we can’t expect to see him any time soon and he has already missed some significant time. Jonathan Stewart did make it out onto the practice field this week on a limited basis, but is very doubtful to suit up this weekend and will most likely give his sprained knee another week to heal. TE/back up FB Richie Brockel will be out not only this weekend but next weekend as well with an ankle injury. His absence will hurt as he was the primary backup to FB Mike Tolbert, who we won’t see again till late November after he sustained a hairline fracture to his leg.
The good news, if it can be described as such, is that Fozzy Whittaker is expected to return to the lineup after missing time with a quad injury. Whittaker showed a lot of playmaking ability during the preseason and figures to be the head of the three manned rushing attack the Panthers will work with this weekend. Joining him in the backfield will be recently promoted practice squad rookie Darrin Reaves and Chris Ogbonnaya who was signed earlier this week after spending the season in free agency. It’s hard to imagine Ogbonnaya can be very effective with such limited time to get into the playbook and prepare but he will have to rise to the challenge if his number is called.
Sep 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterbackCam Newton
(1) throws the ball as Baltimore Ravens defensive endChris Canty
(99) tackles at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
While he isn’t listed on the team injury report at all, I still feel it necessary to discuss him here. Cam opened up this week about something that seemed obvious enough to everyone but hadn’t been acknowledged officially in any capacity yet. The recovery time for his offseason ankle injury has turned out to be lengthier than he initially expected. While Cam is still recovering well and is on track to eventually be over the problem altogether, it has still limited his play significantly this season. Cam may be making strides as a pocket passer but such a critical part of his game is his ability to run the ball. He has not been able to do that so far this season and the absence of his running threat has given defenses more opportunity to keep our offense bottled up. We should see Cam continue to improve as the season continues to progress and hopefully he is moving better behind the line sooner rather than later.
After missing last week’s game due to a hamstring injury Thomas Davis is ready to play this weekend. Davis was close to playing last week and almost took the field but Coach Rivera decided to be cautious with him to avoid aggravating the injury. His absence in part of the Pittsburgh game and for all of the game against Baltimore went a long way in those teams ability to torch our defense. The Panthers have given up record amounts of yardage and points in the past two weeks. Thomas Davis is a team leader and being back on the field will help to boost the defense’s play and mentality on the field his weekend.
Big Money has been powering through ailments all season and it has obviously hindered his performance. He started the season playing through a recovering hamstring problem and has been dealing with a hip flexor the last couple of weeks. He is still expected to play against Chicago and is listed as probable but with the injuries limiting his ability to create pressure his presence in the line up doesn’t create much optimism.
Aug 17, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive endCharles Johnson
(95) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Johnson’s ineffectiveness has also come from the opportunity teams have had the last three weeks to shut him down in the absence of franchised DE Greg Hardy. The Kraken has been missed on the field but has done little to contain the loud persona he is famous for during his time away from the team. As mentioned in the opening of this article Hardy made headlines this week by working on his rapping career. At any other time this would be merely happenstance but given the climate of the NFL right now it seems like something that would be prudent to avoid. Any action in the spotlight for Hardy now will be scrutinized and this one opens the door for misinterpretation. In the video of Hardy rapping he says what seems to have been “Kraken b****” but it could easily be heard as “crack a b****” and will be by the people who have already condemned him.
Coupled with the news of Frank Alexander‘s second suspension, the whole position has been tossed into limbo. Alexander was meant to be a boost to the position. But just as optimism started to grow, the rug was pulled from beneath it. Coach Rivera has said that the Panthers will continue to stand by Alexander despite the second suspension.
On Thursday Charles Johnson missed practice which left only three DEs to go through drills. Mario Addison, Wes Horton, and Kony Ealy were joined by DTs Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short as well as OLB Jason Williams at the position in practice. There is a possibility we see these guys worked into the rotation on the ends during tomorrow’s game.
The circumstances now facing the position are absolutely shocking and would have been hard to imagine four months ago. This group will have the advantage this weekend of matching up against an offensive line that has been banged up as well but there is no denying that they have a challenge to face regardless.
This unit can only be thankful they are not facing the full strength of the Carolina defensive front this week. The Chicago Bears do not have the greatest depth along their O line already and that will be a problem for them this weekend. Already ruled out for the game is starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who has been sidelined with knee and ankle injuries. Quarterbacks get nervous without their starting blindside protector present but the hits don’t stop there as two other starting linemen are listed as questionable. There is optimism that both will be able to play but starting left guard Matt Slauson and starting center Roberto Garza have missed significant time this season due to injuries. Both are questionable for the game with ankle injuries. While there is a chance they will play their availability is far from certain.
Bear Goggles On
The Bears are coming to Charlotte with a defense that is generally banged up. Listed as out for the game are NT Jay Ratliff (concussion), LB Shea McClellin (hand), CB Sherrick McManis (quadricep), and FS Ahmad Dixon (hamstring). DE Jared Allen is probable for the game after missing last week’s game with a flu like illness. Allen reportedly lost a shocking 18 pounds while he was ill so even though he will take the field there are questions about how effective he can be. Also listed as probable for the game (and playing through injuries) are LB D.J. Williams (neck), LB Lance Briggs (knee), and FS Chris Conte (shoulder).
The playmaking wide receiver is listed as probable for the game with the ankle injury that has limited him throughout the season. The injury has held him back the past two weeks but it didn’t stop him from catching three touchdowns in week 2 when he was listed as questionable. It just goes to show that you can’t take a player like Brandon Marshall for granted whether he is hurting or not.
This is a matchup between two teams that have both been bitten hard by the injury bug. Despite the adversity, those injuries have presented both teams feature a fair record of 2-2 at an opportune time during the season. When they square off tomorrow afternoon they will both be black and blue but you can’t take anything for granted. Both of these teams have something to prove and as momentum going forward hangs in the balance, they will both be primed to play their hardest. A win here can fix a lot of problems for the Panthers after back to back blow outs, but the Chicago Bears are no push overs. They have a high powered offense with plenty of weapons. As the Panthers Keep Pounding to get back to business as usual they will have their work cut out for them this weekend.