Carolina Panthers starting WILL linebacker Chase Blackburn went down with a foot injury in last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers, and his injury seemed to be an aggravation of the injury that caused him to be a game-time decision for that Niners game. Blackburn was never expected to play in Monday’s huge contest against the New England Patriots, and the Panthers have unsurprisingly ruled him out. His fate was sealed when he didn’t practice today, because it means that Blackburn has been held out of practice all week.
The Panthers reunited with former starter Dan Connor in order to fortify depth at linebacker, and I think it was an excellent signing. Not only did they get depth, but they also got quality depth at LB. Even though the organization has changed since Connor was last in Charlotte, he is still familiar with some of the players and other things that could help. Beyond that, he’s an excellent run-stuffer on his best day and fits nicely as a backup. The Panthers shouldn’t miss a beat without Blackburn, because promising rookie A.J. Klein could even be an upgrade. Blackburn is solid, but Klein was an absolute beast last week. He makes plays all over the field, just as he did over the course of his superb college career at Iowa State; Klein definitely looks like an underrated commodity.
While the Panthers will be without Blackburn, they will most likely have veteran cornerback Drayton Florence out there on Monday night. According to the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated that he believes Florence will play. His groin “flared up” this morning, and the Panthers medical staff wisely decided that it was best for the team to hold the 32-year-old CB out of practice today. Florence, by the way, is officially listed questionable on the team’s injury report.