By Shawn S. Lealos
One of the biggest reasons that the Carolina Panthers ended the regular season 15-1 is because they finished the year almost completely healthy. They lost their No. 1 starting wide receiver Devin Funchess when the season began, but didn’t miss a step. They had some problems in the secondary with minor injuries, but those didn’t compound until the end of the year. Now, with the Seattle Seahawks coming up next, the Panthers are really only missing one major playmaker that helped them win 15 games this season.
That player is not on the injury report because the Panthers placed cornerback Charles Tillman on the injured reserve list last week with a knee injury. That leaves the Panthers really with only Josh Norman in the secondary when it comes to quality starters. It is a tough loss for the team, but the defense should still play well with Cortland Finnegan coming out of retirement last month to provide depth and now finding himself as a starter.
Outside of that, the only real concern with injuries is that of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. He missed the season finale with a knee injury and remains listed as questionable. However, he returned to practice on Wednesday and will play this weekend, giving the Panthers their full starting lineup at receiver that they have played with all season long.
Running back Fozzy Whittaker is out with a high ankle sprain, but on the bright side, Jonathan Stewart returns after missing the last three games with a sprained foot and is not listed on the injured list at all. The only other Panthers player on the injury report is defensive end Kony Earl, who is sick, but listed as probable after returning to practice on Friday.
Kony Earl, DE (illness)
Ted Ginn Jr, WR (knee)
Fozzy Whitaker, RB (ankle)
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.