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Defensive duo headed to IR

Posted Dec 13, 2010

CHARLOTTE – When defensive end Everette Brown and linebacker Jason Williams officially join the injured reserve list this week, the Panthers will have a dozen players on IR – two short of the franchise high with three games to go.

Not that head coach John Fox is counting.

"I lost count," Fox said Monday in announcing Carolina's latest casualties. "One thing you need to have success in this league is to stay healthy. That's not a new revelation."

Brown suffered a left wrist injury that will require surgery during his most productive game of the season, leaving Sunday's 31-10 loss to Atlanta after recording sacks on back-to-back plays early in the fourth quarter.

Brown finished the season with 3.5 sacks -- all coming over the last five games – as well as eight quarterback pressures to go with 34 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception.
 
"It occurred on his half-a-sack (with Nick Hayden). They kind of all got there at the same time, and it got wedged in there," Fox said. "I think Everette's had a good year. A little up and down, but he had a good day yesterday up until the injury. He had become more productive here as of late."

Williams, who didn't play against the Falcons, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in practice last week. Claimed off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 3, Williams had started the two consecutive games at weakside linebacker prior to Sunday, forcing and recovering a fumble in his first start and tipping a pass to set up an interception in his second start to go with 15 tackles.

"He was a tough guy who was involved in a couple of takeaways," Fox said. "He was just getting acclimated to our defensive system, having not been here during camp or any of the offseason stuff. He was a guy who in a short look did a good job for us."

While Brown had been pass rush specialist behind starters Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson – who leads the Panthers with 7.5 sacks – Williams' spot was filled Sunday by Jordan Senn, who ranks fourth on the team with nine special teams tackles.

"One thing you can say is that he competes," Fox said of Senn. "He's done that at a high level in the kicking game, and he threw himself around with the opportunities that he got. He was fighting his butt off to play the position."

The Panthers (1-12) have double-digit players on IR for the eighth time in the franchise's 16 seasons. Carolina has never had a winning record when placing more than 10 players on IR.

By contrast, the team's five least painful seasons in terms of IR numbers have resulted in four playoff berths.

"That's kind of how this league goes," Fox said. "The teams that stay healthy usually have better records, and the teams that don't stay healthy don't have quite as good a record."

This season, it's been about quality as well as quantity when it comes to injuries. Two of team's three quarterbacks coming out of training camp – starter Matt Moore and third-stringer Tony Pike – are on IR, as well as starting running back DeAngelo Williams, starting middle linebacker Dan Connor and potential special teams standout Wallace Wright.

Two key starters never even made their season debut because of knee injuries: linebacker Thomas Davis, who isn't even counted in the IR numbers because he never made it off the physically unable to perform list; and right tackle Jeff Otah.

There was a bit of encouraging injury news. Cornerback Chris Gamble, who hasn't been active the last two games because of a hamstring injury, said Monday that he expects to return to practice Wednesday following the players' day off.

"I tried to come back last week, but it tightened up on me, so I sat out again," Gamble said. "But it feels good now, so I should be back."