The Panthers are hoping DT Corvey Irvin (above) and others step up with Ron Edwards out of action. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
SPARTANBURG. S.C. – The backside of Ron Edwards’ right arm felt numb as he walked off the practice field last Thursday night.
He felt like it would come around in a few hours.
It wasn’t until the following morning when the 32-year-old defensive tackle went to see the training staff that he realized just how severe the injury really was. Tests revealed Edwards tore his right triceps muscle in his first practice with the Panthers last week.
He’ll be sidelined indefinitely.
“It’s very, very disappointing, especially with a group of great young guys here,” Edwards said. “It’s a downer.”
Although sources close to the situation indicated early on Edwards would be lost for the season, the Panthers have yet to announce if he’ll be placed on injured reserve and haven’t filled his roster spot. Edwards confirmed he’ll have surgery this week, but said he hasn’t been given a timetable on when he could return. He briefly considered not having surgery and trying to battle back and play, but doctors worried about long-term damage to the arm if he played.
Still, he said, “I’m going to try to get back as fast as possible.”
As for Edwards’ chances of coming back from the injury this season, Rivera said, “Honestly, I really don’t know. I’ve heard of situations where guys come back in 8-to-10 weeks and I’ve heard also where those surgeries are (worse). We’ll see. That’s why we’re taking the wait-and-see approach.”
In the meantime, the Panthers are light on experience at defensive tackle.
Edwards’ injury leaves Nick Hayden (13 starts) as the most experienced defensive tackle on the roster. Andre Neblett has started one game, but none of the other tackles on the roster have started in the league.
Rivera said this is a “huge opportunity” for third-round picks Sione Fua and Terrell McClain step up and contribute. Fua, who looked outstanding at Fan Fest on Saturday, has been rotating in at the one-technique spot (nose tackle) along with Andre Neblett and Tommie Duhart, while Corvey Irvin, McClain and Hayden have been splitting most of the reps at the three-technique spot.
“We’re going to try to find who’s going to be the guy that steps up,” Rivera said. “At the three-technique, we really like what we’re getting from Corvey. We really like what (Terrell) McClain can bring as a potential guy in the rotation, so we’re excited about that. As we look through it, there are a few other guys we’re watching. We’re going to move some guys around, too. They’re not just going to sit there and be a three (technique) or a nose. We’re going to give them opportunities at both spots.”
STAYING QUIET: The Panthers reportedly brought in QB Derek Anderson to compete for the No. 3 quarterback spot, but so far the veteran hasn’t seen any action running the offense.
Instead, those reps have been split between youngsters Jimmy Clausen and Cam Newton.
Rivera said for now the Panthers will continue with the two-man rotation, but added that at some point in the near future Anderson and Tony Pike will get reps in team drills.
Pike has been recovering from a shoulder injury, but Anderson is not injured.
“The biggest thing is we’ve had limited reps,” Rivera said. “Derek’s ability to pick up what we’ve done, because he’s very familiar with it, we’re not really overly concerned with that yet… But the big thing is we’ve had to limit our reps with the number of guys we’ve had down and, truthfully, the limited practice time. So we’ve monitored that situation to make sure right now that Cam (Newton) and Jimmy (Clausen) are getting their throws in.”
Still, it would seem if the Panthers were serious about starting Anderson right away he’d have received some reps with the first team by now.
TOO BUSY TO PLAY: Pro Bowl LT Jordan Gross has been with the Panthers since 2003 and said he’s never seen the offense have as much success moving the ball — and scoring — at a Fan Fest as it did Saturday.
“I think it shows that maybe we’re further along offensively than a lot of people thought,” Gross said. “We still have a long road ahead of us and a tough division and a tough schedule this year, but with that being said I’m optimistic about what we can do.”
Gross said he’s surprised by how much the Panthers have installed in little more than a week. He said a lot of information has been crammed in and players are working hard to digest it all.
“The guys, when we’re at the lunchroom table – maybe instead of thinking about what we’re going to have rookies do to entertain us we’re talking about run blitz pickup because the clock is ticking,” Gross said. “We have to play the Giants on Saturday.”
ROSTER MOVE: The Panthers claimed OG Bryant Browning off waivers from St. Louis and waived OLB Kelvin Smith. Browning was signed last month as an undrafted rookie by the Rams after a solid career at Ohio State. He will help replace rookie OG Zack Williams, who tore the ACL in his knee last week and will miss the 2011 season.
DAVIS GETS HIS DEGREE: Linebacker Thomas Davis didn’t attend Saturday’s Fan Fest practice because he was at graduation ceremonies at the University of Georgia. Davis received a bachelor’s degree in consumer economics, seven years after leaving Georgia for the NFL draft.
“The thing that stood out is when they called our section, we were able to stand up and turn the tassel,” Davis said. “For me to be able to get this accomplished and get this thing done and go back and become a graduate from this school that I started from, it’s a tremendous opportunity, a tremendous experience. I’m just glad my kids were able to experience it.”
Davis said he was motivated to get his degree by his wife Kelly and his grandmother.
“It was something (my grandmother) wanted me to do before she passed,” Davis said. “I always had to hear my wife brag about her degree. That’s one thing she had up on me. I told her I didn’t have a degree but I had a pretty good job. Now our kids can look at both of our degrees sitting there and it will be extra motivation for them.”
PRACTICE MOVED INSIDE: Lightning forced the Panthers to move Monday night’s practice into the gym about 10 minutes after it began.
PRACTICE TIME CHANGE: The Panthers moved Tuesday's padded practice up to 10:30 a.m. They will also have a walkthrough at 7:30 p.m. Both practices are open to the public.
INJURY UPDATE: WRs David Gettis and Brandon LaFell (hamstrings) both returned to practice, as did LB Dan Connor (hip)... Among those sitting out practice were MLB Jon Beason (Achilles tendinitis), C Ryan Kalil (calf), RG Geoff Schwartz (unknown), CBs Chris Gamble (illness) and Captain Munnerlyn (calf) and DE Greg Hardy (body scrapes).
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE: Here's who ran with the first team offense Monday night: QB Jimmy Clausen, RB DeAngelo Williams, FB Tony Fiammetta, WRs Steve Smith and David Gettis, LT Jordan Gross, LG Travelle Wharton, C C.J. Davis, RG Mackenzy Bernadeau, RT Jeff Otah.
And on defense: LDE Charles Johnson, NT Sione Fua, DT Corvey Irvin, RDE Eric Norwood, WLB Thomas Davis, MLB Dan Connor, SLB James Anderson, CBs R.J. Stanford and C.J. Wilson, FS Charles Godfrey and SS Sherrod Martin.