There are some pretty significant injuries around the division as the NFC South teams prepare for Sunday’s games.
Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder) is listed as out for Sunday’s game with Dallas. More significantly, coach Ron Rivera said Gamble will have an MRI on his labrum. If the labrum is torn, Gamble will go on injured reserve.
Losing the team’s best cornerback would be a huge blow to a defense that already is struggling. In the short term, Captain Munnerlyn is expected to start in Gamble’s place. But Munnerlyn will slide to nickel back in certain packages, and rookie Josh Thomas is likely to get plenty of playing time.
The Panthers also are listing middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) as doubtful. But Rivera took that one step further and said Beason is “very doubtful.’’ It seems likely rookie Luke Kuechly will start at middle linebacker.
The Saints also have some significant injuries heading into Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay. Linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) has been declared out, but linebacker Scott Shanle, who missed the past two days with an illness, returned to practice Friday and is listed as probable. The Saints also are listing tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) as questionable. He practiced on a limited basis Friday. If Graham can’t play, David Thomas likely would get the start with Daniel Graham getting playing time as the No. 2 tight end.
The Buccaneers appear relatively healthy. Receiver Vincent Jackson (calf) is listed as probable and practiced on a limited basis Friday. Guard Carl Nicks (foot) participated fully in practice and is listed as probable.