Heading into the start of the Carolina Panthers season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers had a short injury list. The major players who were left off the field in week one were safety Mike Mitchell and wide receiver Domenik Hixon. The status of Mitchell is key to the Panthers’ secondary, especially, since the release of Haruki Nakamura due to concussion issues. Veteran safety Quintin Mikell was brought in to add experience to the defense and contend for the safety position. The signing proved to be a fantastic acquisition, due to the injury with Mitchell.
The status of wide receiver Hixon is difficult for the offense and coaching staff, because the Panthers are still searching for the consistent No. 2 receiver. Hixon had a very good chance at competing with the other receivers for that spot, or even the No. 3 spot. Since his injury, he has slowly been losing his chance of proving himself valuable and worthy of a spot on the field. So far, Brandon Lafell and Ted Ginn are in the position battle for the second and third spot. Besides Steve Smith and Greg Olson, Ginn was the only other receiver to catch a ball in Week 1. This causes an issue for the offense and quarterback Cam Newton. In Game 1, Newton threw to only five different players, two of them being running backs. Newton needs more options on offense, and has to spread the ball out to keep defenses guessing and force them respect all options.
After Week 1, Panthers’ guard Amini Silatolu is considered questionable for Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. Once again, this shows the coaching staff was smart by signing team veteran Travelle Wharton to help boost the offensive line. With Silatolu questionable, Wharton has a high percentage of starting. Don’t expect this to affect the production in the run or pass game. Wharton spent his first eight years with the Panthers; he knows the offense well and is still a good athlete.
On the other side of the ball is defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who is questionable with a thigh injury. If he doesn’t get the start in this upcoming week, rookie Kawann Short will get his chance at start. He was selected in the 2013 draft in the second round out of Purdue. With our No. 2 pass rushers on the defensive line still healthy, don’t expect the Panthers’ defense to lie down and give up more yards on the ground.
To no surprise, Carolina fans find linebacker Jon Beason on the injury list again. However, he is only listed as probable, meaning he has about a 75 percent chance of starting this coming Sunday. Beason has had many injuries in the past, but if he stays healthy, he can be top of the league at his position. Although Beason is expected to start, the Panthers have great depth at the linebacker position.
So far it’s been a good start to the season. Although the Panthers walked away with a loss in Week 1, they put up a great fight and came away with some positive notes. A short injury list is always a great sign, and hopefully the Panthers will keep it that way. Only one or two players are officially ruled out of the upcoming game against the Bills. With injuries not posing a threat yet, the Panthers can focus more on their opponent and give themselves a better shot at winning.