Jaycee Horn injury highlights urgent need for Carolina Panthers to strengthen at CB

Jaycee Horn
Jaycee Horn / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Another injury to Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn does nothing to diminish the significant need to strengthen the position before the 2023 season.

It seems that Jaycee Horn cannot seem to catch a break in terms of staying healthy. The gifted cornerback missed most of his rookie campaign and some crucial games down the stretch in 2022, with the player freely admitting that being available must be a primary objective heading into Year 3 of his professional career.

Horn's talent is undeniable. He is a shutdown force capable of locking down one side of the field with relative comfort. But unless the former first-round pick out of South Carolina manages to put a consistent run of contests together, reliability will become a major issue.

Carolina Panthers must explore CB options after Jaycee Horn's injury

This once again reared its ugly head on Thursday morning - just before the Panthers descended on the field for other open practice. Carolina's website revealed that Horn will miss the remainder of OTAs and mandatory minicamp with an ankle and foot issue, which is expected to be healed for training camp in Spartanburg but is concerning nonetheless.

Panthers staff writer Darin Gantt shed more light on Horn's problem via press release.

"[Jaycee] Horn suffered the injury while working out on his own last weekend. He was examined on Monday by Dr. Robert Anderson, one of the leading foot and ankle specialists. No surgery will be required, but he will be in a walking boot for a few weeks. It's not the same foot Horn injured during the 2021 season."

Darin Gantt, Panthers.com

While this should hopefully be nothing more than wearing a walking boot before descending on Spartanburg for camp, it's deeply concerning nonetheless. Especially considering that the Panthers did absolutely nothing to strengthen their cornerback options this offseason.

Just why the Panthers completely ignored a key position group clearly overreliant on a borderline injury-prone player such as Horn is a mystery. But this does nothing to detract from the panic that will set in if their undisputed No. 1 option is forced to miss time at any stage in 2023.

The fact this was a soft, non-contact tissue injury that Horn suffered doing an individual workout is one thing. But the fact that it's come on the ankle he didn't break after 2.5 games as a rookie in 2020 is somehow worse.

Instead of having to worry about one leg at the back of his mind, it's now two. Horn can hopefully shake off any self-doubt that might creep in with a strong training camp free of any further complications, but there's just no telling for sure.

There's a chance this could alter Carolina's mindset regarding cornerback reinforcements. Then again, it might not.

It's pretty slim pickings in the free-agent market at this stage. And players like Marcus Peters might be waiting around for a team that boasts a better chance of contending for honors in 2023.

Trading for someone cannot be completely dismissed where general manager Scott Fitterer is concerned. But after giving up so much draft capital for the privilege to select Bryce Young at No. 1 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, parting ways with further assets might be a last resort scenario.

If the Panthers stand pat and Horn isn't available for a full 17-game slate, it will be nothing short of catastrophic. Something that could prove to be the difference between success and failure next season.