By Shawn S. Lealos
One thing that has remained constant throughout the entire NFL regular season was that the Carolina Panthers have avoided most major injuries. They lost Kelvin Benjamin, their star wide receiver in the preseason, but then went almost unscathed through their 15-win season, save running back Jonathan Stewart missing a few weeks at the end. However, as the playoffs started, injuries began to creep up on the Panthers. Here is a look at the Carolina Panthers injury report heading into Super Bowl 50.
The biggest losses come with two players who are actually on the injured reserve now. Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere both hit the injured list at the end of the season, taking away two of the Panthers cornerbacks. However, the losses were covered rather quickly. For one thing, Josh Norman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL this season, and he’s the one who covers the No. 1 receiver. In the case of the Super Bowl, that’s Demaryius Thomas. On the other side of the field is Cortland Finnegan, who was retired until December. In his two playoff games this season, Finnegan has 10 tackles and one interception.
Outside of the injured reserve players, no one else will miss Super Bowl 50.
Defensive end Jared Allen was held out of the NFC Championship game after breaking his foot. That angered the player, who believed that he could have played even with the injury, but head coach Ron Rivera wanted to protect Allen from himself to ensure he was ready for the Super Bowl. Allen sat out and now he will return this weekend to play in the Super Bowl, not completely healthy, but ready to contribute.
There are only two other players on the injury report: Linebacker Thomas Davis and fullback Mike Tolbert. Tolbert has a hurt knee, but he has been talking more than just about anyone, vocalizing that he hopes they beat Peyton Manning if it means sending the future Hall of Fame quarterback out of the NFL with another Super Bowl loss. As for Davis, he broke his forearm in the NFC Championship game, but Rivera said that he expects the player to start anyway, just two weeks after undergoing surgery to place screws in his arm.
Jared Allen, DE (foot)
Thomas Davis, LB (forearm)
Mike Tolbert, FB (knee)
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.