CHARLOTTE — Panthers head coach Matt Rhule alluded to some offensive line issues early in the day, and those were evident when the Panthers took the field for a short practice session Monday afternoon.
Even with the return of left tackle Cameron Erving — he was designated to return from injured reserve Monday and resumed practicing — the Panthers were fairly shorthanded. Erving missed the previous three games with a calf injury, and Dennis Daley started in his place. Erving has started seven games this season, and battled a variety of injuries of his own.
Guards John Miller, Trent Scott, and Michael Jordan were not on the practice field Monday during the portion open to the media.
Miller suffered an ankle injury before the Dolphins game and didn't make the trip to Miami. Jordan left that game with a hamstring issue but returned later.
After practice, the Panthers put Scott on the reserve/COVID-19 list, putting his status for the week into question. Players who are vaccinated are eligible to return as soon as they have two negative tests with 24 hours between them, as long as they remain asymptomatic.
The Panthers have used eight different combinations of starting offensive linemen in the first 12 games, and depending on how the rest of the week goes, they could be adding to that number. Replacing offensive coordinator Joe Brady this week adds a layer to what has become a near-weekly thing.
Right tackle Taylor Moton's getting used to the shuffle, and laughed a bit and said he'd likely remain in his spot this week.
"I'm not sure who's going to play where, ultimately, with the injuries," Moton said. "But all I know is, whoever's playing wherever, I'm going to do my best to help them prepare and be as ready as they can be come Sunday. And at the same time, prepare myself, so I can be as good as I can be.
"I feel like we have good chemistry, and we can continue to build and grow on it. And just whoever's in there, make sure we're as prepared as possible, communicate, and be in sync."
So for now, it's too early to know what the lineup will look like Sunday against the Falcons.
— While the bye-week break was nice for all the players after 12 straight weeks of football, defensive end Morgan Fox admitted Monday the timing wasn't perfect.
The Panthers are coming off allowing 60 points in the previous two games, not the kind of football they're used to playing. They're still second in the league in total defense (in terms of yards per game), but the recent trend has not been positive.
"As a competitor, it's always frustrating when you put things that are uncharacteristic on tape and on the field," Fox said. "It's one or two things, a little mistake here, a little mistake there, and it adds up. And we're all guilty of it. And sitting over the bye week, you definitely think of what could we have done better, what could I have done better in these situations.
"It definitely sits on your conscience a little bit, but it's the next week, and we have to see how to improve and attack the next week."
— The Panthers have an open spot on the 53-man roster at the moment, after placing running back Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve last week.
Between being short at running back (Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah are the only ones on the active roster) and the confusion on the offensive line, moves could come at a number of positions in the coming days.
View photos of the TopCats during Carolina's Week 11 game against Washington.