The Panthers are facing the grim reality of being without WRs Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett this week against the Bears, hoping to end a four-game slide to start the season.
Smith is likely to miss at least one game with what is being called a high ankle sprain. And Jarrett might be a former Panther after being arrested for his second DUI as a member of the team.
Owner Jerry Richardson has to be disappointed in the former second-rounder and probably will give the OK to sever ties with Jarrett.
There were whispers around the team in training camp that Jarrett could be cut, even though he had some strong August practices. Sources have said that the team simply can’t trust him to deliver in games, and he offers no special-teams value.
One of the only reasons he is on the team and was active on Sunday is because the team was shorthanded at receiver to begin with. Now with Smith’s injury and Jarrett’s arrest, the Panthers could be looking at a top two receivers of Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, third- and sixth-rounders in April, plus heretofore disappointing Armanti Edwards getting his first real action as a wideout.
And all of this comes with a rookie quarterback. Jimmy Clausen has been just OK through two games, but he showed some toughness at the end of the loss to the Saints. Gettis stepped up with a big catch late, but he and LaFell remain flawed players at this stage.
The Bears’ defense has to be eating up the idea of a rookie QB throwing to three rookie receivers, even with as strong a run game as the Panthers have. DE Julius Peppers makes his return to Carolina, and for as many times as he ate Panthers OLT Jordan Gross’ lunch in practice over the years, you have to think the Bears would match up Peppers with wooden-footed Geoff Schwartz if ORT Jeff Otah can’t go again.
Things have spiraled out of control for the Panthers, who thankfully have a Week Six bye to get organized and perhaps add a veteran wideout to the mix to give the kids a break.
As for how things might look next season, fans don’t even want to imagine how ugly it could get. Head coach John Fox looks to have a foot out the door, and the team lacks its second-rounder, which was traded to land Edwards. Right now, that deal — and this season — are not working out well.