The Carolina Panthers have finally filled the final spot on their 53-man roster, which had been vacant since last week. With starting fullback Tony Fiammetta ruled out for tomorrow's game at the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team promoted rookie fullback Rashawn Jackson from the practice squad on Wednesday.
Fiammetta helped open holes that allowed the Panthers to gain more than 100 yards rushing for the seventh consecutive game last Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals, in addition to rushing for five yards on three carries. However, he suffered an ankle injury during the game and did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday.
Carolina had an opening on the roster for Jackson after placing three players on injured reserve last week but only filling two of the spots.
Jackson, 6-1 and 239 pounds, had spent the entire season on the practice squad since being waived in the final roster cutdown on Sept. 4. Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent from Virginia, he played in 46 games with 15 starts for the Cavaliers and produced 595 yards and two touchdowns on 132 rushes and 47 catches for 347 yards and one touchdown.
Head coach John Fox indicated that Jackson probably would be active at Pittsburgh since he is the only healthy fullback on the roster. However, the Panthers' options at the position are not limited to Jackson.
Fox said, "We have a lot of different guys that play the fullback position. We have all season. But more than likely he'll have a jersey to replace Fiammetta."
As they have throughout the season, any of Carolina's tight ends could be featured at fullback. In fact, the Panthers have started two tight ends seven times this year. Another alternative would be running back Tyrell Sutton, who lined up at fullback when both Brad Hoover and Fiammetta were inactive at New Orleans in 2009.
In other injury news, cornerback Chris Gamble is doubtful with an injured ankle. He has missed the last three games, not playing at the Seattle Seahawks or versus the Atlanta Falcons with a hamstring injury and versus the Cardinals because of the ankle.
Gamble had recovered from the hamstring injury, participating fully in practice last Wednesday and Thursday, but sustained the ankle injury in practice and was limited on Friday prior to being inactive versus Arizona.
"He didn't quite make it back from it," Fox said. "It's the same ankle injury that we listed a week ago. It just hasn't improved."
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is expected to start again if Gamble can't play. Munnerlyn returned to practice Wednesday after being absent Tuesday for personal reasons. He has started the last four games and recorded 25 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed while also handing punt return duties.
Defensive end Tyler Brayton, who was held out of practice on Tuesday, worked fully on Wednesday and is questionable with a hip injury. Probable are guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (knee), wide receiver Armanti Edwards (illness), running back Mike Goodson (illness), linebacker Jordan Senn (knee) and tackle Garry Williams (knee).