Saints, Panthers still banged up

It’s starting to look as if the bye week wasn’t as kind to the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints as it is to most teams.

The Saints and Panthers each had a bye last week and that usually helps a team move toward getting healthy. But that formula doesn’t seem to be helping with some key injuries.

Carolina middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) missed another day of practice. Beason also missed the game prior to the bye. Although coach Ron Rivera still held out some hope Beason might be able to play Sunday against Dallas, it’s sounding like that might be a long shot.

It also is sounding like it might be time for the Panthers to make a decision on where they want rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly to play for the long term. Kuechly, who played in the middle in college, opened the season at outside linebacker.

Kuechly moved to the middle when Beason sat out the game with Seattle before the bye. I’m thinking the Panthers may be close to moving Kuechly to the middle on a permanent basis.

Beason isn’t the only injury concern for the Panthers. Cornerback Chris Gamble was put back on the injury report and held out of Thursday’s practice. Gamble sat out the Seattle game, but returned to practice Wednesday and aggravated a shoulder injury. If Gamble can’t play against Dallas, Captain Munnerlyn likely would get the start.

The news was only slightly better in New Orleans. Tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis. Graham injured the ankle in the game against San Diego before the bye and interim coach Aaron Kromer said it still is too early to tell if he’ll be able to play Sunday at Tampa Bay. If Graham can’t go, David Thomas would get the start and Daniel Graham likely would get additional playing time. Outside linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) missed his eighth straight practice and it appears unlikely he'll be ready for Sunday.