CHARLOTTE – The last time the Panthers played, Wes Horton watched on television from home.
The next time the Panthers play, Horton is likely to be in the starting lineup.
With defensive end Jared Allen battling a pinched nerve likely to prevent him from making the trip to Seattle, Horton has been penciled in to start in Allen's spot Sunday against the Seahawks.
Horton was erased from the roster on the eve of Carolina's previous game back in Week 4, waived to make room for offensive tackle David Foucault with the Panthers in desperate need for depth on game day.
Three days later, the Panthers re-signed Horton.
"As soon as I cleared waivers, they were the first ones to call," Horton said. "It was just a very eerie feeling, knowing that you're on the street, that you're not employed. You don't really know what the future holds. It was kind of an eerie feeling, but it came and went pretty quick."
Horton, who had been on the roster since making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2013, said he understood how injuries can force such decisions – including injuries of his own. In addition to Carolina's need for immediate depth along the offensive line Week 4 at Tampa Bay, Horton had been limited for three consecutive games by a shoulder sprain suffered in the season opener.
"I was a little surprised, but injuries happen, and if you're hampered by an injury and they need production, it's a business," Horton said. "I've totally put it behind me. I'm a member of this team. I feel wanted by everybody.
"This week in practice, I just wanted to show them that not only am I healthy but that I can be a factor on Sunday."
After the Panthers took what head coach Ron Rivera called "a little bit of a roll of the dice" by waiving Horton, Rivera is happy to have Horton healthy for the Seahawks regardless of Allen's status.
Horton has been an effective player against Seattle in the teams' recent meetings.
"We feel pretty good about having him back for this one," Rivera said. "He fits the run very nicely, especially against a big guy (like Marshawn Lynch).
"He's definitely a box-type of player. He'll take a couple of steps laterally, but for the most part, he's tough, he's stout, and he's physical against tight ends at the point of attack."
Rivera also likes the way Horton contains scrambling quarterbacks like Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, Rivera isn't holding out much hope that he'll have Allen available to chase Wilson "unless tomorrow morning everything is great."
"It's unfortunate because he's a veteran guy that knows how to do things that we want on the field," Rivera continued. "But we've also got to be realistic because after this game we've still got 11 to play. We'll be smart."
Allen, who has missed just four games in 12-plus NFL seasons, is holding out hope.
"I keep rehabbing, and it gets better every day," he said. "I'll leave it to Coach. I'll just do my rehab and see what happens."
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Seahawks.