Crucial help on both offense and defense may be in store for Carolina after their mini-bye.
The Carolina Panthers are finally getting healthier faster than they are getting hurt. Cornerback Jaycee Horn (hamstring) and tight end Ian Thomas (calf) have been designated to return from injured reserve this week.
Horn has been absent since the season opener, while Thomas was injured in practice in Week 6 before the Miami Dolphins game.
The return of Jaycee Horn is fantastic news as the defense, in particular, has suffered a series of losses across the season with only a few players actually returning to the field. Donte Jackson and C.J. Henderson proved to be an adequate pair of corners, but the lack of depth exposed the unit down the stretch of every game.
Thomas, meanwhile, has drawn the ire of fans for years for under producing his contract but returns now to an offense where his contributions could be immeasurable. He is usually more of a run blocking tight end, but there is room for him to help in pass blocking and as a receiver. The sky is truly the limit, if only because the offense has nowhere to go but up.
The team has already released former practice squad safety Matthias Farley and tight end Jordan Matthews in expectation of adding both Horn and Thomas back to the regular roster in time for Sunday’s
slaughtergame against the Dallas Cowboys.
Sitting with the worst record in the league, the Panthers know something needs to change.
CHARLOTTE — Before the Panthers broke for a mini-bye over the weekend, Panthers head coach Frank Reich opened the door for some changes on offense.
He didn’t necessarily commit to any of them Monday as they gathered to prepare for Dallas, beyond the one unquestionable fact about the first half of the season — they have to get better.
When asked specifically whether Thomas Brown would continue to call plays as he has the last three games, Reich didn’t offer many specifics, saying it would always be collaborative.
“I’m really just thinking the whole thing through,” Reich said. “First of all, however we’ve done the play calling, who’s ever been doing the play calling, we haven’t performed as an offense. So, let me just make that point clear.
“First of all, as I look towards the last half of the season now, what’s the best dynamic? And why any decision that’s ultimately made is just going to be based on that one pure factor. So that’s how we’ll approach it.”
Reich said they’re always talking about potential lineup tweaks in areas they feel like they have depth. He said it wasn’t simply based on making a change or rotating certain guys but trying to find players who “you think can play winning football.”
Three thoughts on Panthers: Reich retaking play-calling would be bad look for everyone - Mike Kaye, The Charlotte Observer
The team isn’t doing any favors for their No. 1 overall pick.
THE ROSTER ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH — AND YOUNG IS PAYING THE PRICE
Young has been a polarizing protagonist on social media among NFL fans beyond the Carolina faithful.
His apologists will point to Young’s supporting cast and defend every one of his mistakes despite the quirky habits he’s developed in playing with the characters around him. His detractors will claim that his miscues are the direct result of his size and understated athleticism at the NFL level.
In reality, Young’s truth has its hands in both pockets.
Young has a mediocre group of weapons and his offensive line has been as sturdy as a bounce house for the majority of the season. Still, Young has made his fair share of mistakes — from holding onto the ball too long to firing off the mark in big moments. At times, Young looks like he’s overcompensating for the lack of talent around him instead of elevating the group.
To be clear, the rookie looks like ... a rookie. And despite how CJ Stroud is lighting the world on fire in Houston, Young’s early growing pains aren’t as damning as his critics think.
The shuffling continues for the Panthers’ offense.
It’s been a challenging season for rookie quarterback Bryce Young and much of that can be attributed to the overall production of the big fellas up front protecting him, or lack thereof.
Tuesday evening, the Panthers made a change by releasing starting left guard Calvin Throckmorton and signing offensive tackle David Sharpe to the 53-man roster. Throckmorton was claimed off waivers earlier this season from New Orleans and worked his way into a starting role pretty quickly taking over at right guard initially. He eventually flipped over to the left side but still had his fair share of struggles.
Carolina also decided to release Deonte Brown from the practice squad. The former sixth round selection out of Alabama has been waived and brought back to the practice squad a handful of times.
Rookie Chandler Zavala seems like the most likely option to fill in as the new starting left guard.