Donte Jackson injury update determines Week 13 favorite
Will Donte Jackson’s availability on Sunday determine fate of the Carolina Panthers season?
Four weeks ago the Carolina Panthers defeated Tampa Bay for a sixth win – their last to this point in the season. Over the next three weeks Carolina lost twice on the road at Pittsburgh and Detroit before suffering a setback at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Both cornerbacks played well against Tampa Bay with James Bradberry shadowing Mike Evans and rookie Donte Jackson registering five tackles and a game clinching interception.
In the three losses since Carolina has allowed 884 passing yards and eight touchdowns to their opponents. The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger tossed a season high five touchdowns and Seattle’s Russell Wilson earned his highest total of yards for the year with 339 – his first 300-plus game of the season. Jackson only played one snap on defense before exiting with a leg (quadriceps) injury and his replacements never quite caught up.
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Corn Elder initially received an opportunity before being replaced by Captain Munnerlyn and the two split time down the stretch. In the past three days Carolina has made an attempt to bolster the position should Jackson be sidelined or limited on Sunday but anyone else opposite Bradberry would seemingly make the Panthers underdogs.
Currently, betting lines have Carolina as a four-point favorite but ESPN gives Tampa Bay the advantage by two-tenths of a percentage point. Expectations are for a close game and even if Jackson is in the lineup the defensive secondary would be vulnerable against the league’s best passing attack – without him and it may be time to begin mock draft scenarios or hot seat speculations.
The Panthers are in a must win situation with two games remaining against divisional leader New Orleans (10-1) and out of the wild card at the moment. Wins against Tampa Bay and the Cleveland Browns over the next two weeks would set up a huge showdown with the Saints on Monday night – lose and the outcome likely doesn’t matter at that point.
Jackson did not practice Wednesday but according to reports worked out with trainers on the side, providing some hope of his availability – and future of the Panthers season.