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How personnel changed since Week 6

Posted Jan 12, 2016

Both the Panthers and Seahawks look different since the last time they met. Here's an examination of the lineups heading into Sunday's Divisional Playoff.

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers’ 27-23 win at Seattle in Week 6 was a critical moment in what proved to be an unprecedented 15-1 season.

There is a lot to be gleaned from that thrilling heavyweight matchup, but a lot has changed for both teams in the three months that followed.

"We’re not the same team that we were Week 6 and neither are they," safety Kurt Coleman said. "These are totally different teams, and that’s the great part about it.

"I think we’ve grown tremendously. We’ve lost some pieces but also we’ve grown a lot closer as a collective unit."

Below is a look at some notable differences for the two teams.

CHANGES FOR CAROLINA: Offensively, the Panthers’ starting personnel is identical to what it was in Week 6. One area of noticeable growth, however, has been the emergence of rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess, who became more reliable and caught five touchdown passes in the second half of the season.

Defensively, Carolina looks different up front and in the back end. Defensive ends Charles Johnson (short term IR) and Jared Allen did not play in Week 6 (Kony Ealy and Wes Horton were the starters), but both are slated to start Sunday. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere are on injured reserve, so mid-season signings Robert McClain and Cortland Finnegan have taken their place.

CHANGES FOR SEATTLE: In Week 6, tight end Jimmy Graham posted a game-high eight catches for 140 yards and wide receiver Ricardo Lockette recorded a highlight-reel 40-yard touchdown catch, but both suffered season-ending injuries since.

Running back Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers in October, somewhat surprisingly missed the Wild Card Playoff against Minnesota with an abdomen injury, and his status is uncertain. His backup, rookie Thomas Rawls, suffered a season-ending injury. Thus, Christine Michael, who was traded to Dallas in September and later brought back to Seattle in December, could be the first option once again.

On defense, cornerback Cary Williams, who started back in Week 6, is no longer on the team. Jeremy Lane, who was on the physically unable to perform list at the time, has taken over that spot.

Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner did not play in the first meeting due to injury, but he will be directing the defense on Sunday.