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December 05, 2011

Rookie defensive tackles hurting

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has expressed concern about starting defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain “hitting the wall” and wearing down as their rookie seasons progressed.

On Monday, Fua didn't hit the wall. He hit the MRI machine.

Fua and McClain are being evaluated Monday after injuries Sunday before and during the Panthers' 38-19 win at Tampa Bay.

Fua injured his hamstring in pre-game warmups and did not play. McClain re-injured an MCL sprain he suffered at Indianapolis in Week 12.

Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse took over for Fua and McClain against the Bucs. The Panthers also used defensive ends Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson and Antwan Applewhite on the interior at times.

The Panthers gave up a season-low 78 rushing yards against Tampa Bay, and limited LeGarrette Blount to 19 yards on 11 carries.

To have what happened to us with Sione going down before the game and then Terrell during the game, I thought they fought through that adverse situation,” Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said.

Frank Kearse and Andre stepped up and did a nice job. It's always nice to see young players step in and do a good job. I think the future's bright at the position.”

In another injury note, Rivera said left guard Travelle Wharton felt better Monday after sitting out the second against the Bucs after his back tightened up.

Rivera said Wharton likely won't practice Wednesday and will be re-evaluated later in the week.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 5, 2011 at 01:25 PM | Permalink


I bet its no coincidence that the run defense played better than it has all year since Fua wasnt there. That kid is a 3rd stringer and should not be a starter. Hes on roller skates every sunday.

Posted by: Thebeast1984 | Dec 5, 2011 1:50:08 PM

I think Neblett plays better than McClain and Fua.

Posted by: CarPanFan1 | Dec 5, 2011 2:13:52 PM

I agree with Thebeast1984. The Bucs are not an offensive juggernaut, but the improvements were definitely beyond noticeable. I think Neblett and Kearse at least warrant a few more looks with the first team even when Fua and McClain return and are healthy. I agree we are young and we will improve across the board but we need to have our best, those with the most upsode getting the reps. Right now that appears to be the "backups."

Posted by: YeahRight | Dec 5, 2011 2:14:19 PM

That is no question... Fua frustrates me more than anyone. MCclain has shown some flashes.

Posted by: 10-4!! | Dec 5, 2011 2:23:09 PM

They both need to bulk up, year 2 is usually when you see players either turn the corner or just flatline careerwise in the NFL. I still say CB is priority in the draft, followed by either DT or LB.

Posted by: Rick | Dec 5, 2011 3:20:27 PM

Well, part of the improvement against the running game has to be that the Panthers jumped out to a big lead quickly. Not to mention they were playing against Tampa Bay's backup QB, so they were probably playing the run to begin with.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 5, 2011 3:33:20 PM

u see Fua get thrown round constantly, its hard to judge Mcclain cuz he always seems to be double and since Fua gets tossed mostly its easier to contain Mcclain, but when Nebblet and Kearse was playng, it looked like a total different line, And the Bucs can run the ball, its not like are the worse rushing team in the NFL, Blount is a beast and he ran us over last year and jumped over us, he had less than 40 yards rushing, give credit to the DT's Kearse and Nebblet, also Kieser is a steal, are DEF is coming together, Applewhite Kearse, with Beason Anderson, CJ and hardy, with Ron Edwards, looks like a 3-4 is going to be coming next year.

Posted by: bullethead527 | Dec 5, 2011 4:12:08 PM

Yeah, scrap everything from the rest of the year, and start two guys - Neblett and Kearse - who the coaching staff has seen all year in practice and not started, just because of results against a poor team, when they get up early, against a 2nd-string Qb that allowed the Panthers to load-up against the run, and again, in just ONE GAME...
You guys reactionary much??? If Kearse and Neblett are not starting, it is because of their practice play - in other words, they don't deserve to start. Success against the run yesterday came from 1) Getting a big lead quickly, 2) the lack of a real passing threat in Josh Johnson, so Godfrey played, basically, as a 4th linebacker, and 3) the Bucs OL was awful, in pass and run blocking, all day long.

Posted by: swizzlesticks | Dec 5, 2011 4:27:54 PM

Where did anyone("you guys reactionary much") say scrap anything, GENIUS!

I think we are all saying it is concerning and worth mixing it up, since the season is over. Concerning when Reggie Bush pulls Fua for 3 plus yards in the preseason game before he is able to get him down.

Posted by: 10-4!! | Dec 5, 2011 4:51:10 PM

swizzlesticks must not have played football. I played with several guys in college that were ok in practice but beasts when the game came on Saturday.

I could care less if Fua and McClain are beasts in practice, that is worthless on Sundays. Let the other guys get some reps. If they deliver on game day, they are keepers. The fact that we are "12-0" in practice will not get us into the playoffs. Seeing what they have on Sundays is the entire point of rebuilding.

Posted by: YeahRight | Dec 5, 2011 5:48:29 PM

Thomas Keiser is a perfect example. He's been as good in anyone in relief the last 4 weeks and he wasn't even good enough in practice to make the 53-man roster, just the practice squad. I guess we need to release him because other guys look better on paper and in practice.

Posted by: YeahRight | Dec 5, 2011 5:51:17 PM


First off Neblett has been getting lots of time on the field for most of the season. And Kearse was a 7th round pick who joined the team in like week 5 so it took him a few weeks to get on the field. Panthers have been rotating four DTs most of the year - so they will contiune to do that but I agree Neblett and Kearse should get more reps than they were getting. Credit the Panthers for going with undrafted Keiser over guys like Norwood and the guy they cut who was a second round pick we traded up for.. what was his name?

Posted by: Dirt | Dec 5, 2011 6:13:32 PM

Also - DTs rarely come out of College and make an impact. Suh - sure... But most take a couple years to get bulked up and in tune with the speed of the game. We have FOUR solid young DTs - and next year we get Edwards back and will likely add another FA DT and another one from the draft. Right now I am thinking the Panthers draft WR Justin Blackman with the top pick and then the best DT or CB on the board with the second and third picks. I would grab OTs with the 4th and 5th rounds picks and then a couple sleepers late.

Posted by: Dirt | Dec 5, 2011 6:21:05 PM

This season is all about improving for the future and that includes letting young guys take there lumps and learn the game. This is not the season we need to win.

Posted by: Sportsdon | Dec 5, 2011 7:12:56 PM

To swizzlesticks ...........the panthers have had the leads in 13 outta 14 games including the Green Bay game in which we took a 10-0 lead and in all we were ran all over so i must say kearse and neblett did a pretty good job. So to say it bcuz of the quick lead or the qb ...i doubt it

Posted by: chris | Dec 5, 2011 11:39:22 PM

...we've played 12 games.

Posted by: ryan o | Dec 6, 2011 12:20:38 PM

Yeah, new coach. New QB, lots of questions...what can we expect. No wait. Denver is 7-5 with the same circumstances. What's up with that?

Posted by: Creek Mallard | Dec 6, 2011 1:11:33 PM

denver went out on a limb and put defenders on the field

Posted by: ryan o | Dec 6, 2011 3:02:34 PM

It's sad how far behind the Charlotte Observer and Joe Person are with reporting news. I read over an hour ago that Fua and McClain are both going to be put on IR. Oberserver and Person have no clue.

But besides that obvious point, other one is that these two DT 3rd round draft pick busts are further evidence of how horrible GM Marty Hurney is. He's clearly the weak link in this organization and has been for years.

It's sad that making the obvious pick of Newton will mask all his other pathetic draft picks from last year's draft and many others.

Posted by: Ron | Dec 6, 2011 3:53:09 PM

Fua, and McClain will be fine. A good offseason in the weight room nonstop will do wonders for them.

Posted by: Jason Warren | Dec 6, 2011 3:55:16 PM

Nice reporting....Where is the story that's all over the national wire that both rookie DT have been put on IR????

Posted by: PantherJon | Dec 6, 2011 10:59:16 PM

yeah is kind of ridiculous even now!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Dec 7, 2011 8:01:52 AM

Speaking of Denver why is former FL Gator NCAA champ Heisman winner Tim Tebow the most hated player in the NFL (with the hated John Fox who was run off after years of hating on him)



Obv Tebow is a much superior QB than Newton as if that needed to be said (but gets no union help)


Posted by: charlotte gator | Dec 7, 2011 9:57:02 AM

What people tend to forget is the lockout, no OTA's and mini camps for newly drafted rookies and a short training camp. I think the guys have done well considering and have improved. They will show up next season to give NFL teams a good run. They are already watching us.... GO PANTHERS!!!

Posted by: Tina | Dec 7, 2011 11:46:33 AM

people in charlotte don't even realize how impactful ron edwards is/was.

you put jon beason and ron edwards on this team and we might be talking playoffs. offense has been phenomenal and defense terrible. but we were gauged by critical injuries on defense.

Posted by: charlottean | Dec 7, 2011 1:09:30 PM

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