Midway through the week, it’s becoming clearer on which starters will sit out this week against Detroit, though one key position remains uncertain.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was limited in practice Wednesday and that backups Will Grier and P.J. Walker are splitting the snaps in a battle that will likely dictate which player is the solid No. 2 for the rest of the season.
“We’ll monitor him day-to-day and see if he’s able to go on Sunday,” Rhule said of Bridgewater. “We’ll see how he responds to today’s work and (Thursday).”
The first 10 weeks have seen Walker and Grier split time between being the No. 2 and being inactive on gameday.
Rhule expects on player to separate himself from the other for the backup job.
“Because we didn’t have a preseason … I felt like it would be a good opportunity to see them both this week during practice,” he said. “We feel like we can get two guys ready with the way that we practice, so we’ve just been splitting reps.
“If Teddy can go, I think this will give us real clarity as to who the No. 2 should be, and if he can’t go, then it’s pretty clear who the starter is. …
“I think the good this is, as I’ve said all along, is we feel really confident in both guys. We feel like they can go out there and play at a high level. We’re hopeful Teddy can go, but if not we want to give them both a fair opportunity this week to show what they can do.”
Rhule said that while he was hopeful on Monday that his star running back would play, it’s become almost a certainty that he’ll miss his second straight game with a sprained shoulder, and his eighth game overall.
“I’d call it a setback in that I thought he’d be ready and he’s not,” Rhule said. “I think it’s just part of the healing process. … I don’t know if it’ll be this week. I don’t know if it will be next week. I’m not sure. I just think it’s one of those things where no one knows their body better than Christian and whenever he feels like he can go and the doctors feel like he can go, then we’ll be ready.”
Mike Davis will once again get the start, but Rhule said receiver Curtis Samuel will still see spot duty in the backfield.
“I think we’ve tried to utilize (Samuel as a running back) to a degree, but at the same time he’s not 215, 220 pounds. … I think the thought process for us is to get him touches at the tailback position at certain times in certain places. …
“When he carried it a bunch of times in the Falcons game, then he was out for the Bears game. So, we want to give him just enough reps, but not too many reps where we don’t hurt our production at the receiver position.”
DONTE JACKSON DOUBTFUL
After Jackson missed most of the game Sunday against Tampa Bay, it appears the Panthers have decided to shut him down for the immediate future until his turf toe is better.
“We’re going to sit him down for a couple of day,” Rhule said. “We have to let him heal.”
Troy Pride, Jr. has been told he’ll start at cornerback.
“When Troy’s had weeks where he’s known he’s the starter all week and gone in and played, I think he’s approached it really well and has a good confidence about him,” Rhule said. “So, we just said, let’s approach it that way. Let’s tell him that he’s the starter. Let’s give him the whole week. Let’s give Donte a chance to rest his foot for a couple of days.”
By some chance that Jackson feels good on Sunday and can play, then he’ll get the start. But again, it’s doubtful.
RUSSELL OKUNG DOUBTFUL
For what seems like a weekly thing, Okung will once again likely miss this week’s game. The oft-injured right tackle has been hampered all season.
If offensive guard John Miller, who didn’t practice Wednesday, can’t play then Dennis Daley will start at that position. However, if Miller plays, then Daley and Trent Scott will likely split time at tackle, Rhule said.