The Panthers head into Sunday’s key divisional matchup against the New Orleans Saints with a relatively short injury list despite adding some names to the list after Friday’s final practice. The Panthers are looking to improve on what has been a miserable start to the season and secure a much-needed win.
Panthers Starter Questionable
The Panthers list cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Stanley Thomas-Oliver as questionable with hamstring and Achilles injuries respectively. Jackson entering his fifth year with the team after being drafted out of LSU in 2018 left late in the game as the Panthers lost 19-16 to the New York Giants. Jackson spoke to the media and said he “expects to play on Sunday” throughout the week head coach Matt Rhule described the Panthers’ starting corner as “day to day”
If Jackson is not ready to go Sunday, the Panthers start C.J Henderson moving him in from the slot and deploying Myles Hartsfield as the Panthers slot corner. An injury to Jackson could see more reps for Keith Taylor, Taylor a fifth-round pick out of Washington in 2021 impressed in a more prominent role than would usually be expected from a late-round rookie as the Panthers’ secondary was ravaged by injury.
Thomas-Oliver who was a seventh-round pick in 2020 out of FIU is lower down the depth chart in terms of the Cornerback rotation but has found himself a home on special teams as a key member of coordinator Chris Tabor’s group. If both Jackson and Thomas Oliver are unable to go on Sunday expect the Panthers to elevate some corners from the practice squad to add some numbers.
The Panthers have rookie Tae Hayes who impressed in the preseason with a pick-six against the New England Patriots and Madre Harper a third-year corner out of Southern Illinois who spent most of last season on the teams’ practice squad.
The Panthers also added starting defensive lineman Brian Burns and Matt Ioannidis to the injury report Friday. The pair were both limited in practice with ankle and groin injuries respectively, but they have no injury designation meaning they are good to go ahead of what is a must-win game for Carolina against their divisional rival New Orleans Saints.
The Panthers received some good news Friday as Christian McCaffrey who popped up on the injury report Thursday with some ankle soreness was a full participant in practice and enters the game with no injury designation and will start. McCaffrey joked about being added to the injury report saying he could “take a leak and be added to the report” the former Stanford star is coming off the back of his first 100-yard rush game since 2019.
The Panthers also had full participation from linebacker Frankie Luvu, Luvu the Panthers starting OLB was added to the report Thursday as he was limited with a shoulder injury, but it seems the former New York Jet is good to go for Sunday. Luvu is coming off the back of a good performance Sunday as he registered ten solo tackles which included four tackles for loss.
Saints Injury Report Deep
The Saints headed into Sunday’s matchup with an extended injury report, from Thursday’s report the Saints had ten players on the injury report. These included offensive starters Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, and Ryan Ramczyk who had all been limited throughout the first two practices of the week.
Kamara the Saints’ star RB was absent from the Saint’s week 20-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a Rib injury and unless he logs a full practice on Friday, he looks likely to head into Sunday’s game with some sort of injury designation. The outlook for starting QB Winston is more precarious, and he deals with back and ankle injuries, despite playing on Sunday it was reported that Winston played with four fractured vertebrae in his back meaning his status for Sunday is undecided.
With Saints backup QB Taysom Hill also limited throughout the week the Saints may need to turn to veteran Andy Dalton to start if Winston is out on Sunday.
At the time of writing the Saints are yet to release their final injury report.