It took awhile for the Carolina Panthers’ offense to start finding its footing in Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Without Fozzy Whittaker, the home team’s struggles are even more likely to last for all 60 minutes.
Whittaker was carted off the field late in the first quarter after suffering an injury to his right ankle. The incident occurred when he was tackled for a three-year loss by Philadelphia’s Nigel Bradham as he tried to break containment and get around the left end. He gave the Carolina crowd a thumbs up while being driven to the locker room, but the team officially listed him as questionable to return, according to ESPN Panthers beat reporter David Newton.
Whittaker, a fifth-year veteran out of Texas, had just three rushes for 13 yards coming into Thursday’s contest. He’s a special teams ace for Ron Rivera’s team, though, and frequently takes snaps as a third-down back.
The Panthers are as well suited as any team in the league to withstand the absence of a running back. Jonathan Stewart remains Carolina’s workhorse, while rookie Christian McCaffrey has quickly become one of the most exciting change-of-pace backs in football. First-year wide receiver Curtis Samuel has a wealth of experience playing out of the backfield, too.
No matter how much depth a team has at its disposal, though, it’s never easy to replace an injured player during the course of a game. More touches for McCaffrey wouldn’t be a bad thing, for instance, but the ripples of Whittaker’s absence spread much further than anyone but Carolina’s coaching staff knows for certain.
The Eagles and Panthers are all tied at 3-3 early in the second quarter.