October 23, 2014

Horton: Panthers need to "take a shot" at Wilson when he runs

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is coming his second 100-yard rushing game of the season last weekend against St. Louis, and at least one Carolina defender says the Panthers have to make Wilson pay a price when he leaves the pocket.

Defensive end Wes Horton says the Panthers need to "take a shot" at Wilson when he takes off running.

"He's pretty much like a running back back there with the way he can scramble. So we've just got to plaster him and, in some cases, take a shot," Horton said Thursday.

"If you see him in space, you run full speed at him, get your hands on him and try to take him down. We know he's elusive and we know he's going to try to shake and spin and do all those things we've seen on tape."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has watched teams take shots on his quarterback when Cam Newton runs, so he's all for his defense getting after Wilson. But Rivera says Wilson knows how to avoid a hit.

"He played baseball, so he knows how to slide," Rivera said.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 23, 2014 at 04:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

October 22, 2014

Twitter map: People who follow the Panthers across America

Twitter has come up with a neat interactive map that shows where Panthers fans reside across America, and to no one's surprise the Panthers own the Carolinas.

What's a little more surprising is their popularity in places like Washington County, Idaho, and Ravalli County, Mont.

The map takes followers of the Panthers' official Twitter account and uses their location to produce the map. In Mecklenburg County (of course), the Panthers are far and away with the favorite, with the Steelers and Cowboys coming in second and third. 

Perhaps most interesting is Washington's franchise doesn't appear in the top 3 of most followed teams in most North Carolina and South Carolina counties. 

In Washington County, Idaho, the Panthers reign supreme at 11.25 percent in front of the Steelers and Cowboys. That likely has a lot to do with former Carolina left tackle Jordan Gross, who went to nearby Fruitland High School.

Ravalli County, Mont., follows the Seahawks first, then Panthers second and the 49ers third. If you know why that may be the case, please comment below.

--Jonathan Jones


Posted by Observer Sports on October 22, 2014 at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 21, 2014

Panthers cut veteran DB Charles Godfrey, sign G Scott from practice squad

The Panthers have released veteran defensive back Charles Godfrey after seven weeks of Godfrey looking slow in coverage coming off an Achilles tear.

Godfrey, a seven-year veteran, had converted from safety to nickel corner this season as the Panthers brought in Thomas DeCoud and Roman Harper in the offseason. He had played behind rookie Bene' Benwikere at nickel cornerback until Benwikere was injured against Chicago, and that's when Godfrey was exposed.

Against the Bengals and Packers he was consistently beaten. Godfrey showed good instincts but never had the speed to keep up with the opponents' receivers.

“Making this move was difficult because Charles has been a large part of what we have done since I came to Carolina four years ago,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. "He has always tried to do everything we have asked of him and worked extremely hard. He is an outstanding young man and we wish him the very best.”

This offseason, Godfrey accepted a paycut that slashed his cap number by nearly $4 million.

The Panthers brought up veteran guard Chris Scott from the practice squad to help with their depth along the interior of the line.

Cornerback James Dockery is the only healthy nickel corner on the Panthers' roster currently. Benwikere is still at least a week away from playing after suffering an ankle sprain.

-Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 21, 2014 at 03:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

October 20, 2014

Updated: Bell gets good news on elbow; Turner out this week


The news was mixed on the MRIs received by the Panthers' offensive linemen.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said left tackle Byron Bell has a bruised elbow and will be reevaluated Wednesday, but indicated the injury wasn't as bad as feared.

Rookie right guard Trai Turner has a sprained ankle and sprained knee -- both to his left leg -- and will miss Sunday's game against Seattle. Rivera said Turner's status is week-to-week.

Also, left guard Amini Silatolu, who missed Sunday's loss at Green Bay with a strained calf, said he remains day-to-day and was uncertain whether he would play against the Seahawks.

Rivera said running back DeAngelo Williams, who has missed two games with a high ankle sprain, could return to practice Wednesday in some capacity.

--Joseph Person


The Panthers are awaiting the MRI results of two starters from their already depleted offensive line.

Left tackle Byron Bell (elbow) and right guard Trai Turner (ankle, knee) both went for MRIs on Monday morning after going down with injuries in Sunday's 38-17 loss to Green Bay.

Reserve linebacker Jason Williams (groin) also was scheduled to undergo an MRI.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera would not speculate on the severity of the injuries.

The Panthers already were without left guard Amini Silatolu, who missed Sunday's game with a strained calf.

If Silatolu remains sidelined this week, Rivera said the Panthers would activate Chris Scott, who was signed to the practice squad last week. Scott started eight games last season, but was among the final roster cuts in August.

The Panthers played a pair of undrafted rookies against the Packers as a result of the injuries. Rivera said guard Andrew Norwell played well in his first action, while tackle David Foucault bounced back after getting beaten twice.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 20, 2014 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

October 19, 2014

Kelvin Benjamin active for Panthers vs. Packers

GREEN BAY Panthers rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has passed through the concussion protocol and is active for Sunday's game against the Packers.

Benjamin will start for Carolina. He leads all rookie receivers with 416 yards and four touchdowns.

He suffered a concussion in last week's game at Cincinnati on a hit over the middle from linebacker Vontaze Burfict. He left the game but returned after missing two plays. On Monday he complained of a headache, and he was placed in the concussion protocol.

Benjamin participated fully at practice Friday. He was listed as questionable. In the past four years, only former Carolina tight end Jeremy Shockey has played in the same week he was in the concussion protocol for the Panthers.

Five Panthers were ruled out for the game on Saturday and did not make the trip: CB Bene' Benwikere, LB Chase Blackburn, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Fozzy Whittaker and G Amini Silatolu. The other two inactives are QB Joe Webb and CB Josh Norman.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 19, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

October 17, 2014

Kelvin Benjamin questionable to play vs. Packers

Panthers rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin is questionable to play Sunday against Green Bay with a concussion.

Benjamin suffered a concussion in last week's game against Cincinnati and has been in the concussion protocol since complaining of a headache Monday. He participated fully at practice Friday, but he still must be cleared by an independent doctor before being allowed to play against Green Bay.

"He did a nice job with it, but again I'm not the one judging it," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after practice.

"Now he looked good on the field. I thought he practiced well. He looked sharp. I really don't think he had a (mental error). He did all of his assignments that he was supposed to do. He took a lot of reps today, which I understand is part of the protocol is to have him go out and practice and see how he does and then evaluate later. My understanding is that would be tomorrow, as far as to see how he is."

Five Panthers are doubtful for the game. CB Bene' Benwikere (ankle), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), G Amini Silatolu (calf), RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) and RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will likely be inactive for the game. RB Darrin Reaves (calf) was limited in practice and is questionable.

Tight end Greg Olsen (ankle) participated fully in practice Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. 

Running back Jonathan Stewart (knee) will start for Carolina. Chris Ogbonnaya will be the backup.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 17, 2014 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

October 15, 2014

Benjamin dealing with post-concussion symptoms from Burfict hit

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $25,000 on Wednesday for trying to hurt Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen by twisting their ankles.

Burfict apparently was successful in injuring Panthers rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin, who is dealing with post-concussion symptoms following a hit by Burfict in Sunday's 37-37 tie at Cincinnati.

Burfict was penalized for unnecessary roughness for the second-quarter hit on Benjamin, who left the game following the 7-yard completion. Benjamin returned after missing two plays after passing the in-game concussion tests, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera.

"That's the only reason he went back in the game," Rivera said.

Rivera said Benjamin came to the stadium with a headache Monday morning, and was placed in the concussion protocol. Rivera called it a "mild" concussion.

Benjamin, the first-round pick who leads the Panthers with 416 receiving yards, did not practice Wednesday. But Rivera did not rule him out of Sunday's game at Green Bay.

Rivera said he assumes Benjamin was injured on Burfict's hit, but Rivera didn't think it was a dirty play, calling it "aggressive."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 15, 2014 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Reports: Burfict fined $25,000 for Newton, Olsen ankle twists

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen during Carolina's 37-37 tie with Cincinnati last Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Burfict twisted the ankles of Carolina's starting quarterback and tight end at the end of touchdown scores in the second half. He was not penalized during the game for either twist.

ProFootballTalk.com first reported the fine. ESPN's Ed Werder reports Burfict will be summoned to the league office upon his next infraction. The NFL typically announces fines later in the week.

On Monday, Olsen called for league action on Burfict, who has regularly drawn personal foul penalties during his college and NFL careers. Olsen said a fine would not be enough for the oft-fined Burfict.

“In instances like that that are so clearly premeditated, that he had in his mind that if he had those opportunities that he was going to try to attack guys’ legs, but guys who are coming off ankle problems specifically, there’s no room for it,” Olsen said Monday.

“And I think the punishment needs to go beyond a fine. Guys like that don’t learn from that stuff. He’s been fined 100 times for head-hunting, and he did it to (receiver) Kelvin (Benjamin) again. You watch the film; it’s just what he is.” 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 15, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

October 14, 2014

Panthers add G Chris Scott to practice squad, bring Lester to active roster

The Panthers added offensive guard Chris Scott to their practice squad after starting left guard Amini Silatolu strained his calf, and the team brought up safety Robert Lester from the practice squad.

Scott played in 10 games for the Panthers last season and started eight after Carolina signed him during the 2013 training camp. He performed well during preseason this year, but the Panthers decided to keep younger linemen like David Foucault and Andrew Norwell and cut Scott before the regular season.

Silatolu suffered a grade 2 calf strain in the first quarter of the 37-37 tie at Cincinnati. Veteran guard Fernando Velasco replaced him at left guard. Center/guard Brian Folkerts was the only other interior lineman that was active for the game as Norwell was inactive.

Lester rejoins the active roster after playing in 12 games last season as an undrafted rookie. To make room for these moves, Carolina cut linebacker D.J. Smith, who signed with the team 's active roster three weeks ago.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 14, 2014 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 13, 2014

DeAngelo Williams will be out a couple more weeks

The Panthers might get one of their injured running backs back this week, but the franchise's all-time rushing leader remains a couple weeks away.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Jonathan Stewart is expected to practice Wednesday, but DeAngelo Williams won't be back on the field for a couple more weeks.

It's the most definitive Rivera has been about the status of Williams, who had his foot in a cast for a week after he sustained the injury against Baltimore in Week 4.

Stewart has missed three games with a severely sprained knee, while Williams has been sidelined for two games with a high right ankle sprain.

Even with quarterback Cam Newton running 17 times for 107 yards in Sunday's tie with Cincinnati, the Panthers rank 28th in rushing offense with 86.8 yards a game.

The news was mixed on the Panthers' injured cornerbacks.

Rivera said starter Josh Norman, who sat out Sunday after sustaining a concussion in Week 5 against Chicago, will be re-evaluated this week.

Nickel back Bene' Benwikere is "probably doubtful" for this week's game at Green Bay. Benwikere, who missed the Bengals' game, has a high ankle sprain that Rivera said is not as bad as Williams'.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 13, 2014 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)