RB Jonathan Stewart left Sunday's game with an apparent concussion. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers left Sunday's game pretty beaten up and we're not just talking about the score.
Five key players left the game with injuries and did not return – QB Matt Moore (shoulder), RBs Jonathan Stewart (shoulder) and Tyrell Sutton (ankle), LB Dan Connor (hip) and DE Greg Hardy (head).
Coach John Fox offered no update on the extent of the injuries at his post-game press conference.
Moore left the game with 12 minutes left in the second quarter when Saints DT Sedrick Ellis sacked him and drove his shoulder into the turf. Stewart, who was starting for the injured DeAngelo Williams, took a devastating blow to the head from Saints FS Darren Sharper. That leaves the Panthers quarterback and running back positions up in the air entering next week’s game against Tampa Bay.
At quarterback, Fox said Moore will start if he’s able to do so, but he didn’t sound particularly optimistic, although teammates said Moore wanted to return to the game.
“We’ve got two very young players there that, depending on Matt’s status, might be our two quarterbacks for the rest of the season,” Fox said.
If Moore can’t play, Jimmy Clausen will return to the starting lineup and Tony Pike will be the backup.
At running back, the Panthers could get Williams back next week from a sprained foot, but there are no assurances. Williams has missed the last two games.
All five of the players who were injured skipped the open locker room after the game to receive treatment.
IS IT ARMANTI TIME?: If Moore can’t go, then the Panthers could activate former Appalachian State star Armanti Edwards next week to give them another option at quarterback.
Fox doesn’t feel strongly about Edwards as a receiver right now, but hasn’t ruled him out playing quarterback.
“Depends on what position,” Fox said when asked if Edwards can help the team. “Receiver right now? No. (But) we’ll be taking all of the help we can get as far as the quarterback position moving forward.”
PIKE MAKES HIS DEBUT: Pike made his NFL debut, entering the game in the fourth quarter. He was 6 of 12 for 47 yards and was sacked once.
Sadly, that leaves him with the team’s highest quarterback rating (60.1) for the season.
“Anytime you’re able to get in to the game, you’re going to be excited about it and relish the opportunity,” Pike said. “I certainly am. I need to do everything I can to make sure if this situation happens again that we get better results but as far as being out there, it’s a little different then being on the scout team.
“I was just trying to get on the same page as the other guys, sitting there as the third string quarterback, you barely get any reps as a second stringer and for me I just had to speed up the game and get on the same page.”
SMITH QUIET: WR Steve Smith was limited to one catch for 9 yards which came in the final minute of the game.
Smith had a 27-yard reception called back because of offensive pass interference.
“Their defense has a little bit to do with that,” Fox said. “They double him at times. He did have one catch. Unfortunately they flagged another catch for offensive interference. We had a lot of issues today. We had a lot of penalties go against us that were big plays for them. We didn’t execute very well. We turned it over, one for a touchdown.”
DAVIS READY TO GO: WLB Thomas Davis is expected to return to practice this week, according to a team source. However, it’s unclear how close he is to actually playing in a game.
Once he begins practice the Panthers would then have three weeks to decide whether to activate Davis to the 53-man roster or put him on injured reserve. Davis re-tore his ACL back in June while back-peddling during the team’s OTA sessions and has been trying to make it back on field to prove he can play before he becomes a free agent.
BEASON FINE COMING: MLB Jon Beason said he expects to be fined by NFL after drawing a penalty for a hit to defenseless Saints WR Marques Colston in the second half.
Beason said he didn’t mean to do it, but was just trying to play hard. Still, he led with his forearm into Colston’s helmet.
“You know what it will just be the cherry on top of everything,” Beason said sarcastically of possibly being fined after a 34-3 loss. “You live with it. At the end of the day I’m not going to pull up and stop how I play. My job is to stop people and that is why I’m here at the highest level.”
The NFL has threatened to suspend players for hits to defenseless receivers, but Beason thinks that would be over the top.
“I don’t anticipate it, but if they did I would be highly upset and I’d let people know,” Beason said.
BEASON TALK: Beason was pretty discouraged after the game.
“In my 25 years it’s the lowest I’ve felt,” said the two-time Pro Bowler. “We’re just not this bad. I don’t know your opinion, but that’s my opinion. Whether it’s eight games ago or eight games after this, I’ll still have the same opinion. We’re not as bad as this.”
KASAY’S RARE MISS: PK John Kasay missed a 40-yard field goal Sunday, marking the first time he’s missed from inside of 50 yards since Oct. 25, 2009.
HERE'S A RUNNING BACK: LB Jordan Senn ran for 5 yards off a fake punt and picked up a first down on fourth-and-5. It’s the first time he’s carried the ball since high school.
MARSHALL IN TOWN: CB Richard Marshall gave the Panthers an early spark by picking off a Drew Brees pass and returning it 67 yards to set up a Carolina field goal.
That gave Carolina only its second lead at home this season at 3-0.
“The interception was fun, but that’s not enough,” Marshall said. “I need to score with it. Find a way to get that ball in the end zone. That’s what we’ve got to start doing. We’ve got to start scoring on defense. I have to get that ball in the end zone.”
The Panthers haven’t scored a defensive touchdown since Week 7 of last year.
With the pick, Marshall went from fourth to second in career interception return yardage, passing Eric Davis and Chris Gamble. Marshall has 290 returns yards, behind only Mike Minter (418).
MUNNERLYN ON RETURNS: CB Captain Munnerlyn replaced Smith on punt returns Sunday. Munnerlyn has two returns for 18 yards.