Panther Paw Prints: Injury Replacement Edition

We've got a massive basket of Paw Prints for you tonight Panther fans in this late night edition. As the title suggests we are going to link up the possible injury replacements for the Panthers upcoming game against the Bucs as the Panthers need a new starter at QB, RB and LB. First though I must lead with some brief words from Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who finally broke his silence on the Panthers dismal season:

Carolina Panthers' owner has lots of explaining to do - CharlotteObserver.com
"This has been a most difficult season in every respect," Richardson says Monday afternoon in his first public comments of the season. "With the way we finished last year, and many of the same players returning, we believed in our opportunity for success. It has not worked out the way anyone hoped and I accept full responsibility. "I apologize to our fans who have supported us so well. Bringing a championship to the Carolinas has always been our goal and that will continue."

Thanks Tom for finally getting the Big Cat to speak. Though I do believe JR wants to win a championship with every ounce of his being, I still have a hard time believing he thought this team could win without bringing in any veterans. Of course, I bought into it as well as did many of you reading this. As much as I want to lambaste this guy for the current state of the franchise I truly think he is dedicated to making this franchise a Super Bowl winner.

The biggest decision this week is obviously who will start at QB? Fox would have us believe its still up in the air:

Panthers: Moore, Connor and Davis out for season - CharlotteObserver.com
"Now that he's hurt, I got to watch Tony Pike for the first time, just like you, in a game situation. They (Clausen and Pike) are both fine young players, and we'll evaluate them moving forward."

So are we to believe Fox benched Clausen simply to give Pike some reps so as to better evaluate him for this weeks game? Maybe...but Pat Y thinks Fox is already biased against Clausen:

Wrap-up: Saints 34, Panthers 3 - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Sunday night quarterback: I didn’t think it was Fox’s idea to draft Jimmy Clausen because Fox doesn’t believe in drafting quarterbacks to play right away. Fox always has felt that way and it probably was more true than ever as he entered the season without a contract beyond this year. It’s safe to say either owner Jerry Richardson or general manager Marty Hurney made the call on Clausen. It’s becoming more and more obvious Fox isn’t a Clausen fan. He had to play him after Moore got hurt, but Fox yanked Clausen in favor of fellow rookie Tony Pike. If Moore can’t play next week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fox start Pike.

I'm thinking Pat Y might be on to something...more after the jump...

Moores injury also leaves the Panthers short a QB on Sunday, leading to speculation they will bring in a veteran.

Carolina must make more adjustments - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Fox said the Panthers likely will sign a quarterback. But I wouldn’t expect it to be a situation like 2007, when the Panthers brought Vinny Testaverde out of retirement. Fox’s hands are tied on this one because ownership and management have committed to a youth movement. The Panthers are likely to sign a relatively young quarterback. Although it’s highly unlikely Fox will be coaching this team next year, he’s probably going to get some pressure from above to play Clausen the rest of the way. The Panthers need to find out what they have in Clausen because they might have to draft a quarterback early next year.

As we have already reported the Panthers are bringing former Ram Keith Null in for a workout. I can see it now...the 'Null and Void Offense', it fits.

With LB Dan Conner getting placed on IR with a broken hip, who will be the Panthers 3rd starting LB and what position will that person play?

Carolina Panthers' linebacker surplus now a deficit - CharlotteObserver.com
Carolina's options at weakside linebacker include Nic Harris, who filled in against the Saints, Jordan Senn, who has primarily been a special-teams player, and recent acquisition Jason Williams. Williams, claimed off waivers from Dallas last week, suggested he might be in the mix for playing time, and said he feels surprisingly comfortable with the playbook after less than a week with the Panthers. "With those guys going down, I have to speed up my learning curve a little bit," Williams said.

Moving Beason back to MLB just makes sense. In spite of what Jason Williams is saying he's coming in from a 3-4 defense so I expect him to be inactive this week. My guess is Nic Harris switches over to WLB but that is hardly a desirable scenario but I can't think of one that is any better. Maybe Eric Norwood gets more reps?

If you play IDP fantasy the word is moving Beason back to MLB makes him a much more attractive fantasy option:

Fantasy Football Breaking News - Rotoworld.com
Jon Beason will move back to middle linebacker with Dan Connor (hip) out for the season. Beason's IDP production should get a spike. He'll have more opportunities for interceptions and his tackle numbers will rise as well. Beason piled up 142 tackles and three interceptions as the Panthers' middle linebacker a year ago. It's unclear who will fill the weak-side spot going forward.

Maybe Beason can improve the Panthers TE coverage as well. Gyi0062364247_medium

via cdn1.sbnation.com

The Panthers might also need a new starter at RB. RB Jonathan Stewart suffered a concussion in the 1st quarter, most likely mandating a one game absence and back-up Terrel Sutton went down with an ankle injury. If DeAngelo Williams cannot play yet again and Sutton.

Panthers lose another RB: Jonathan Stewart sidelined with head injury after hard hit - latimes.com
Sharper drilled Stewart in the head with his shoulder at the end of a 5-yard gain in the first quarter, causing Stewart to fumble. Stewart was on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field with the assistance of two members of Carolina's medical staff.

You can't say the media is giving Fox a pass with softball questions. Someone questioned his commitment when he is obviously auditioning for a new job while also trying to lead this team:

Fox backs off personnel talk - CharlotteObserver.com
"I'm trying to win games," Fox said. "I think that makes a little bit of sense. I don't get that impression; you'll have to ask people in the organization. From my perspective, I'm extremely competitive and I've got a staff that's extremely competitive."

I do believe Fox is trying to win games but he's having a hard time concealing his frustration. I think Pat Y correctly gauges Fox less than exuberant attitude with the youth movement he was dealt in the off season:

Tale of two youth movements - NFL Nation Blog - ESPN
Then, there is the way the two coaches have handled their youth movements. Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris totally embraced it and has shown trust in young players. Fox hasn’t embraced Carolina’s youth movement at all. You can understand that from a veteran coach, who previously had always kept the Panthers respectable throughout his tenure. But this whole youth movement and pointing fingers at the personnel people are not valid excuses. According to league sources, Fox was told as early as 2008 that this was going to happen and that’s when he encouraged some of his assistant coaches to jump ship because he was worried about their futures. If he wasn’t on board with this, he had his chance to get out.

I don't think this is a fair comparison though as Morris is a rookie coach in his second season whereas Fox is in his 9th and obviously final season in Carolina. But I also agree Fox prefers veterans to a fault.

Beware...we have another classic Fox understatement:

Shoulder injury ends Panthers QB Moore's season
"We're just out of sorts a little bit," Fox said. "Whether it be somebody seeing the right read, turning the protection the right way, throwing the ball accurately."

"Out of sorts a little bit"? That's such an understatement I can't help but laugh.







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