CHARLOTTE — The Panthers need a win over the Lions this Sunday to snap a five-game losing streak, but they might have to do it without two of their best players.
Carolina (3-7) has already ruled out running back Christian McCaffrey for Sunday’s game. The all-pro suffered a shoulder injury in the Panthers’ 33-31 loss to Kansas City two weeks ago and was unable to suit up for his team’s 46-23 home loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday.
The Panthers could also be without quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who injured his right knee late in the loss to the Buccaneers. Bridgewater was a limited participant at practice this week and his availability against the Lions (4-5) will likely be a game-time decision.
If Bridgewater can’t go, it will be either P.J. Walker or Will Grier who will start in his place. Walker is the only Panthers’ backup to see action this season, although the organization could also use the opportunity to see what they have in Grier after drafting him in the third round (2019).
Whoever lines up under center for Carolina, they’ll face a Detroit defense that’s one of the worst in the league. The Lions rank 27th in the league in total defense (400 total yards allowed per game) and 30th in run defense (141.6 yards per game).
Last week, the Panthers had just 65 rushing yards with McCaffrey on the bench. Carolina will hope for a big game from backup running back Mike Davis, who hasn’t totaled 100-plus yards in a game since a 23-16 win over Atlanta in Week 4.
Defensively, the Panthers will have to get by without their top corner in Donte Jackson, who has a lingering toe injury. The Lions rank 12th in the league in passing offense (258.9 yards per game) and quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
Detroit might be without two of its best offensive playmakers Sunday. Receiver Kenny Golladay has been out since Week 8 with a hip injury, although he did return to practice for the first time this week. Rookie running back DeAndre Swift is also questionable with a concussion after racking up 149 all-purpose yards and a touchdown last weekend against Washington.