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November 29, 2013

Charles Johnson out vs. Tampa Bay, Rivera 'concerned' for DeAngelo's availability

Charles Johnson is out for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, and if things don’t take a turn for the better this weekend, DeAngelo Williams may be joining him.

Johnson will miss his second consecutive game with an MCL sprain suffered in Carolina’s Monday night win against New England.

Williams suffered a deep thigh contusion against Miami and has not practiced all week. He’s listed as questionable on the Panthers’ injury report along with linebacker Chase Blackburn, running back Jonathan Stewart and fullback Mike Tolbert.

But Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Tolbert and Stewart are further along than Williams in their recoveries.

“A lot of concern with DeAngelo,” Rivera said. “Everybody else we’ll see how they are tomorrow. They had good practices today.”

Williams suffered a thigh contusion to the same leg earlier this month and missed two practices but did not miss a game.

Rivera said he’d have a good indication of Williams’ availability on Saturday morning. Should the franchise’s leading rusher be unable to go, Rivera said he felt comfortable moving forward with Stewart, Tolbert and rookie Kenjon Barner, who has been inactive the past two games.

As far as Johnson, Rivera was encouraged by what he saw from the defensive end and said he could be ready next week against New Orleans.

“I’m pretty excited about him,” Rivera said. “I think he’s got every opportunity to play next week. He had a big day today watching him go through the paces with the training staff and the strength and conditioning guys. You get to be pretty excited about, you know what, he’s getting pretty close.”

RG Chris Scott (knee) is also out. WR Steve Smith (knee) and LT Jordan Gross (not injury related) are probable for Sunday.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on November 29, 2013 at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

November 28, 2013

Johnson, Smith miss Thanksgiving practice

Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson missed practice again Thursday and his status for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay remains in doubt.

Johnson has not practiced since spraining the MCL in his right knee since Nov. 18 when he was leg-whipped by offensive tackle Marcus Cannon in a win against New England. Johnson, who leads the Panthers with 8.5 sacks, missed last week's win at Miami.

Wide receiver Steve Smith was a new addition to the injury report after sitting out the Thanksgiving morning practice with a knee injury that is not considered serious.

Running back DeAngelo Williams (bruised quad) remained out, although running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and fullback Mike Tolbert (knee) returned on a limited basis after missing Wednesday's practice at the Charlotte Convention Center.

No. 2 tight end Ben Hartsock, who has been dealing with a sprained knee, was held out Thursday after he was limited Wednesday.

Toys for tots: The Panthers will hold their annual holiday toy drive Sunday to benefit the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program. Fans can drop off new, unwrapped toys at stadium gates when they open at 11 a.m.

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on November 28, 2013 at 02:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 27, 2013

Johnson remains out with knee injury

All three of the Panthers' top running backs missed practice Wednesday, although Ron Rivera said the most concerning injuries remain the knee sprains that defensive end Charles Johnson and right guard Chris Scott are recovering from.

Johnson, who leads the Panthers with 8.5 sacks, missed last week's game at Miami after spraining his MCL in a victory against New England. Scott hasn't played since the Atlanta game on Nov. 3.

With rain forcing the Panthers to practice in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, Rivera said he did not want to risk an injury setback by having Johnson practice indoors.

"Going inside, there was no reason to put him on that carpet," Rivera said. "We just want to be smart. Today was more about getting the mental reps down."

Running backs Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and DeAngelo Williams (bruised quad) and fullback Mike Tolbert (leg) all attended practice but did not participate. Rivera said Stewart typically goes easy on Wednesdays following offseason surgeries on both ankles.

The injury report listed Tolbert with a bruised knee, although he told reporters he's dealing with a hamstring issue and would probably not practice this week.

Tight end Ben Hartsock (knee) and linebacker Chase Blackburn (foot) returned to practice on a limited basis.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 27, 2013 at 04:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Steve Smith: I destroyed Fred Smoot's career

Steve Smith going up against a cornerback is usually a matchup to watch in any Panthers game.

The 13-year wide receiver has had several entanglements over the years, but one in particular stands out.

Smith said today on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio show that he ruined the career of former Minnesota cornerback Fred Smoot.

“A guy that I take pride in, I destroyed his career, is Fred Smoot,” Smith said after being asked if his trash talk on the field affected an opponent. “He was never the same after.

“After coming in Bank of America Stadium, things just went downhill (for him) from there.”

In 2005 game against the Vikings, Smith hauled in 11 catches for a franchise-high 201 yards and one touchdown while mostly going against Smoot.

"Whatchamacallit was talking to me in the pregame," Smith said about Smoot after the game. "When somebody is banging on your door, I am not going to hide in the corner ... I am going to open it."

That game was, of course, the one in which Smith did the rowboat celebration following his touchdown—a throwback to a infamous boat cruise several members of the Vikings took in an offseason.


“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Smith said.

Fact-checking Smith’s claim of ruining Smoot’s career, he may actually have a point. Before the Vikings played the Panthers in 2005, Smoot had 17 interceptions in four-plus seasons with Washington and Minnesota. After the game against Smith and the Panthers, Smoot had four interceptions in the remaining four-plus seasons of his career.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on November 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

LB Thomas Davis named NFC Defensive Player of the Month

No one’s overlooking Thomas Davis and his story anymore.

On Tuesday, the Panthers linebacker was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of November.

Davis racked up 35 tackles, including 17 in a Monday Night Football win against the Patriots, one sack, one interception, a forced fumbles and two passes defensed in November as the Panthers went undefeated.

The nine-year veteran has played both weakside and strongside linebacker for Carolina, and Sunday against the Dolphins he dislocated his finger and the bone broke the skin. He required stitches during and after the game but did not miss a single defensive snap.

He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a two-sack performance against Minnesota in Week 6.

Davis is the first Panther to be named NFC Player of the Month since DeAngelo Williams won the offensive honors in December 2008.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on November 27, 2013 at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

November 26, 2013

REPLAY: Person, Jones answer your questions

A replay of Tuesday's online chat with Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones:

Posted by Observer Sports on November 26, 2013 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 25, 2013

Panthers smart to be cautious with Johnson

While the Panthers were in the midst of a come-from-behind win at Miami on Sunday, defensive end Charles Johnson was home in Charlotte, tweeting encouragement and observations in 140 characters or fewer.

Whether Johnson, who is recovering from a sprained MCL, is an observer or participant against Tampa Bay will be of the most-watched storylines this week.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't have any updates on Johnson's condition Monday, saying he would have a better idea Wednesday. But based on Rivera's comments, it's clear the Panthers plan to err on the side of caution so Johnson is back and healthy for the stretch run.

"Again, we’re going to be smart," Rivera said. "It really is about going forward, because we have an opportunity to go forward."

The Panthers had a couple of contain issues Sunday without Johnson, who leads the team with 8.5 sacks. Although Rivera said quarterbacks have escaped the pocket when Johnson's been in the game, as well.

They'd be better served having a healthy Johnson for one or both of the Saints' games rather than rushing him back against Tampa Bay and having him risk re-injury.

In other injury news, Rivera said:

--Fullback Mike Tolbert is dealing with a leg issue that may have been caused by dehydration at the end of the game at Miami, where game-time temperatures were in the low-80s;

--Linebacker Thomas Davis dislocated his finger, causing the bone to break through the skin and requiring stitches during and after the game;

--Defensive end Greg Hardy also has a "finger issue." Hardy tweeted that he played 2 1/2 quarters against the Dolphins with his right thumb "torn open," and included a picture of his bandaged thumb;

--Didn't know anything about free safety Mike Mitchell's injury. Mitchell told reporters after the game he had a lower-body injury that would require an MRI exam.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 25, 2013 at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Panthers at Dolphins: Links

Posted by Observer Sports on November 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 24, 2013

Mario Addison expected to start in place of Charles Johnson

With four players listed as out for Sunday's Panthers-Dolphins game, there isn't much surprise to the Panthers' inactives.

Backup defensive end Mario Addison is expected to get the start in place of Charles Johnson, who did not practice all week with an MCL sprain suffered last week against the Patriots.

Addison has eight tackles, a half sack and 10 quarterback pressures on the season. It will be Addison's second career start after the end started the Oakland game in Week 16 of last season. 

Ron Rivera said earlier this week Addison, Frank Alexander and Wes Horton will rotate at the position opposite Greg Hardy. 

Tight end Ben Hartsock, linebacker Chase Blackburn and guard Chris Scott were also listed as out. The other inactives are receiver Marvin McNutt, running back Kenjon Barner and receiver Tavarres King.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on November 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Clock miscue is latest Panthers-Patriots controversy

There’s a new controversy afoot concerning Monday night’s Panthers-Patriots game.

The clock operator for the game allowed 4 extra seconds to run off after Ted Ginn Jr. scored the game-winning touchdown with (officially) 59 seconds left in the game.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Below are stills from the ESPN broadcast. In the first, you can see Ginn crossing the goal line and on the ground at 1:03.


The clock continues to run after Ginn gets off the ground and celebrates in the end zone. It is stopped at :59.


The Panthers, like all NFL teams, have their own clock operator. But according to a New York Times article last year, all clock operators are NFL, not team, employees. And all clock operators are former officials, generally at the college level.

“There aren’t just fans sitting up there running the clock," Buffalo Bills play-clock operator Jim Huetter told the Times.

The game ended on a Tom Brady interception in the end zone with no time remaining. The Panthers won 24-20.

A Panthers spokesman referred all questions to the league since the clock operators are league employees. A league spokesman was not immediately available for a statement.

--Jonathan Jones and Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 24, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (88)