CHARLOTTE – Running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is doubtful for the second straight week, and wide receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) appears unlikely to play against the Falcons.
LaFell – along with linebacker James Anderson (back), safety Charles Godfrey (back), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist) and offensive lineman Jeff Byers (back) – is listed as questionable. When asked if any of those individuals are "very" questionable, head coach Ron Rivera responded, "I'd say Brandon LaFell."
LaFell's absence would insert Louis Murphy into the No. 2 receiver role opposite Steve Smith, and Rivera said Armanti Edwards would serve as the third receiving option. Wideout David Gettis would also likely be active for just the second time since coming off the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 6.
"If Brandon can't go, there's a good chance we'll have David ready," Rivera said.
Running back Armond Smith, who was recently promoted from the practice squad, will return kickoffs if Edwards' is forced to step in as the No. 3 receiver.
"I really like what (Armanti's) done on the kickoff returns, but we have Armond Smith up, so we'll give Armond a chance to return kicks and take a little pressure off Armanti," Rivera said.
On the defensive side of the ball, Rivera is hopeful Edwards, Anderson and Godfrey – starters at each level of the defense – will be available.
"It would make life tough (if they can't play), but it's all part of it," Rivera said. "(Jason Phillips) played well when he had to fill in for us last week. (Defensive tackle) Frank Kearse showed some stoutness, some physicality. I thought (safety) D.J. Campbell did a nice job when he came in for Sherrod Martin.
"Those three (starters), obviously, are big keys to who we are, but the three guys that came in and played, we keep them around for a reason. They showed that they have some ability."