CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGHP) — The Carolina Panthers are dealing with severe injury troubles at two key positions.
While speaking with the media on Tuesday, head coach Frank Reich said that Panthers star cornerback Jaycee Horn felt a pop when he injured his hamstring in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons.
Horn is expected to miss “a significant amount of time” according to The Athletic’s Joe Person. Going on the injured reserve list and surgery are both options for Horn at this point.
The injury is a sad development for the third-year cornerback out of the University of South Carolina who has struggled to stay healthy ever since the Panthers selected him with the No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While Horn has displayed elite skills while on the field, he has only played in 17 games thus far in his career.
Horn broke his foot three games into his rookie season and missed the remainder of the season. In 2022, a broken wrist caused him to miss the Panthers’ final two games, including a crucial Week 17 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where the Carolina secondary struggled mightily in a loss that ended the team’s playoff hopes.
Horn also missed an extended portion of OTAs and minicamp with a left ankle injury.
The bad injury news does not stop there for the Panthers as the team placed starting left guard Brady Christensen on injured reserve after he suffered a torn bicep in the game against the Falcons.
Reich said the injury occurred later in the game and gave Christensen credit for finishing the game despite being hurt.
Christensen announced on Instagram that he underwent surgery to repair the bicep tear on Thursday morning.
“Just wanted to say thanks for everyone’s thoughts, prayers, and support! Had surgery this morning to fix a bicep tear. Not the way I imagined this season going but excited to get back at it and I’ll be back on the field in no time! Love this game! Love this city! Never take anything for granted!! #keeppounding“Brady Christensen on Instagram
As for the team’s plans moving forward in the secondary, CJ Henderson and Troy Hill will each likely move a spot up on the depth chart in Horn’s absence with fellow starter Donte Jackson moving up to the number one spot.
On Wednesday, Reich said that the team would look to add a cornerback with the roster spot that Christensen’s injury freed up and the team did just that on Thursday by signing Sam Webb from the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad.
Webb started in three games and played in 17 during his rookie season with the Raiders in 2022.
Christensen’s injury leaves Carolina without either of their starting offensive guards from last season as right guard Austin Corbett remains on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in the Panthers’ final game last season.
Corbett will not be eligible to return to the lineup until after Week 4 at the earliest.
Reich announced on Wednesday that there will be a three-man competition at left guard and that the team will decide on a starter for Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.
The Panthers selected Mays in the Round 6 of the 2022 NFL Draft. He appeared in 11 games and made two starts. His most notable contributions were as an additional lineman in the Panthers’ “Arby’s package” last year when the team would send out three additional linemen to aid in run blocking.
Mays was given an opportunity to be the team’s starting right guard in light of Corbett’s injury. However, he was unable to beat out rookie guard Chandler Zavala who won the starting job.
The Panthers selected Zavala in Round 4 of the 2023 NFL Draft out of NC State.
Jensen is a rookie undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State who impressed in the offseason and was able to earn a sport on the 53-man roster.
For whatever it is worth, Jensen is currently listed as the backup left guard on the Panthers’ depth chart while Mays is listed as the backup center.
The 31-year-old McCray has more experience than anyone else in consideration having played in 64 games and starting in 27 of them.
McCray also is well-versed with offensive line coach James Campen as this is now the fourth different team that the pair finds themselves working together.
Working against McCray is the fact that he is not currently on the 53-man roster and is on the practice squad. That means that the Panthers would have to create a roster spot for him.