As if the Panthers didn’t have enough problems, they’re now uncertain about the status of two of their top defensive players (of which there are not enough).
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was “most certainly concerned” about the long-term status of linebacker Jon Beason (knee) and cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder), according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
Both players missed practice Thursday. Gamble had worked the day before, but aggravated a shoulder injury.
When asked if they were candidates for injured reserve, Rivera didn’t dismiss the possibility.
“That’s tough to say, just because we’ll see [Friday],” Rivera said. “Chris had come back feeling pretty good after having two weeks off basically and ran around really well. Then came in this morning and was complaining about the stiffness and soreness that he had from a shot he took.”
As much as losing Beason would hurt, the Panthers at least have cover in the middle in rookie Luke Kuechly. Frankly, Kuechly looked better in the middle in their previous game against Seattle than Beason had, as Beason has been notably less mobile coming off last year’s Achilles tear.
Losing Gamble would be a major blow, as it takes away their one true cover corner. Captain Munnerlyn would replace him in the starting lineup, and while Munnerlyn had a pick-six against the Seahawks, he’s lost his starting job to fifth-round rookie Josh Norman for a reason.
But as many problems as the defense has, it puts even more pressure on quarterback Cam Newton and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to get their respective acts together.
The Panthers needed to lean on the offense this year anyway, but that’s been the biggest drop-off five games into this season.