CHARLOTTE – Defensive end Frank Alexander, a leading candidate for a starting job opposite Charles Johnson, will miss the 2015 season with a torn right Achilles tendon.
Alexander suffered the injury on the fourth play of Saturday's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
"I'm disappointed for Frank," head coach Ron Rivera said. "That's a tough one."
Particularly tough for Alexander, who was suspended for the first 14 games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL policy and program for substances of abuse.
The fourth-year defensive end was entering a make or break season, but now he won't get a chance to prove himself.
"I feel like I was on the right track, but I am going to bounce back from this," Alexander said. "My faith is still high. I'm not giving up on myself. I'm going to stay positive and stay focused. It's just another bump in the road that I have to get over."
As for the Panthers and their defensive line, Rivera hopes the other defensive ends take advantage of the increased opportunities that are sure to come their way.
Kony Ealy and Wes Horton, who each recorded a sack/fumble, put their best foot forward Saturday night.
"We'll find out where these young guys are and what these young guys are thinking," Rivera said. "They are going to get more opportunities. The nice thing is, you saw Wes (Horton) step up, you saw Kony (Ealy) step up and Mario (Addison). I feel really good about that."
Alexander said he'll have surgery Tuesday, then he'll begin working his way back into the mix for 2016.
"I just have to stay focused," Alexander said. "I have to keep going, keep pounding."