CHARLOTTE -- As the Panthers made a quick return to the practice field less than 43 hours after defeating the Atlanta Falcons, left tackle Jordan Gross's season officially concluded when the team placed him on injured reserve.
Gross suffered a broken ankle when Atlanta's Vance Walker rolled up on his right leg during the second quarter Sunday. His leg was immediately placed in a protective brace and he left the field via cart.
It marks the first time Gross has been on injured reserve during his seven-year career. Until now, he's only missed one game: a Week 5 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. Coincidentally, it was an injury against the Falcons that forced him to the sidelines that time; he suffered a concussion early in that season's home win over Atlanta and didn't return for two weeks.
"We visited (Monday) for a while. In typical Jordan fashion, he apologized for getting (injured)," said quarterback
"A lot of the guys (visited Gross. That's not surprising that guys would do that."
Gross immediately knew the injury was serious, even though he was smiling as he left the field.
"He looked at me when he was on the ground and he said, 'It's bad,'" Delhomme said. "(He) didn't want to be that guy causing a scene. And he told everybody, 'Just win the game.' The ownership that he's taken of this team and his position, and what it means to him, it's admirable the way it is. You wish everybody would be that way."
But now he's just one of seven players on injured reserve already for the Panthers, joining offensive lineman
Several other starters have also missed games this year, including
As players have begun their rehabilitations, they've been around the locker room, practice field and sideline -- which is where Gross hopes to be Thursday night.
"His big thing is: 'I hope I can be out there Thursday night.' It's kind of like, 'I don't think you need to be out there Thursday night. You need to be resting,'" Delhomme said.
Gross' spot on the roster will be filled by rookie wide receiver Charly Martin, who joined the Panthers' practice squad on Sept. 9, four days after being waived by the San Diego Chargers at the 53-man roster deadline.
The West Texas A&M product and Farmington, N.M. native was the leading pass-catcher in Division II last year, amassing 95 receptions for 1,867 yards and 22 touchdowns. That tally included a Division II-postseason record 343-yard day against Abilene Christian.
In his summer stint with San Diego, Martin grabbed seven passes for 88 yards and returned three kickoffs for a 24.0-yard average.
Martin's move was part of a flurry of practice-squad moves, which also saw the release of tight end Jason Poicask and the additions of defensive end
De La Puente was inactive for seven games with the Kansas City Chiefs last year and was on the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad for most of this season before being let go on Nov. 10.