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 (26)

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 (22)

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)

October 12, 2014

Subplot to a tie: Burfict twists ankles of Newton, Olsen

CINCINNATI While the first tie game of the 2014 NFL season was the storyline from Panthers-Bengals on Sunday, Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict may get more attention later this week.

Burfict, who was playing in his first game since suffering concussions in consecutive games in Weeks 2 and 3, seemed to twist the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen on their respective touchdowns in Sunday’s 37-37 tie.

On Newton’s 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Burfict was clean in his tackle on Newton. But as Newton is on the ground in the end zone, Burfict seemed to twist Newton’s ankle and doesn’t let go until late. Newton reacts as if he wants to kick Burfict but thinks better of it.


Video by Colin Hoggard.

With 4:50 left in the fourth quarter, Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 13-yard touchdown. Again, Burfict takes Olsen to the ground and seems to twist the tight end’s ankle.


Burfict was not flagged for either play. In the first half he was flagged for roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness on Kelvin Benjamin.

Newton is still recovering from his well-documented ankle surgery in March. Olsen injured his foot last week against the Bears and missed two practices last week because of it.

Burfict could be subject to fines if the NFL deems the plays as dirty. The Panthers send video of plays they want further explanation on to the league office early in the week, and it’s likely the ankle twists will be among them.

Carolina kicker Graham Gano tweeted his disgust with the plays.


--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 12, 2014 at 09:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Jonathan Stewart inactive vs. Bengals

CINCINNATI Running back Jonathan Stewart became the Panthers' latest game-time decision that won't be playing in a game.

Stewart is inactive for Sunday's game at Cincinnati, adding to a list of Panthers players who were deemed game-day decisions on Friday to later sit on Sunday.

It's the third consecutive game Stewart has missed with a knee sprain. Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams is inactive for the second game after suffering a high ankle sprain two weeks ago in Baltimore.

Darrin Reaves, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya will split the snaps at running back.

The other inactives for the Panthers are: QB Joe Webb, CB Josh Norman, CB Bene' Benwikere, LB D.J. Smith and OL Andrew Norwell.

As expected, the Bengals will be without All Pro receiver A.J. Green, who injured his toe in practice this week. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 12, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 07, 2014

Panthers send Brockel to IR, sign CB Dockery

The bad news keeps coming for the Panthers' backfield.

Carolina placed FB/TE Richie Brockel on injured reserve Tuesday with an injured foot. That leaves Carolina without its backup fullback for the rest of the season as starting fullback Mike Tolbert (knee) is out until at least mid-November.

It's another hit to the Panthers' running game, which has been with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart for most of the season. Williams suffered a high ankle sprain, which is what Brockel's injury was described as last week, two weeks ago and missed last week's game. He's likely to miss this week's contest at Cincinatti, as well. Stewart (knee) is expected to practice this week.

In a corresponding move, the Panthers signed CB James Dockery. Dockery comes back to Carolina after being released in late August. He spent 2012 and 2013 with the Panthers and had 20 tackles and two passes defensed.

Dockery knows Carolina's defensive scheme, and he could be on the active roster Sunday with cornerback Josh Norman's availability uncertain after suffering a concussion last week.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on October 7, 2014 at 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)