CHARLOTTE — The Panthers are getting a significant boost to their defense this week, as they're activating cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the active roster so he can play against the Falcons Sunday.
Gilmore was on the physically unable to perform list when the Panthers traded for him, and though he was eligible to play last week, they wanted to give him another week to get his feet underneath him after a long layoff.
He hadn't practiced since last December until he began easing in last week, and they think he's going to be able to play a somewhat limited part. Along with linebacker Shaq Thompson, they plan to use Gilmore in certain packages rather than expecting him to play 70 snaps right off the bat.
Gilmore, the 2019 NFL defensive player of the year, joins a cornerback group that has relied on Donte Jackson, A.J. Bouye, and Keith Taylor Jr. in recent weeks.
The Panthers also placed defensive end Darryl Johnson on inured reserve, with a hamstring injury. He played two games since coming over in a preseason trade with the Bills.
The Panthers also promoted wide receiver Keith Kirkwood and punter Lachlan Edwards from the practice squad (standard elevations).
Kirkwood caught three passes for 17 yards, and also played 10 snaps on special teams last week against the Giants, filling in for the absence of Brandon Zylstra, who went on IR a week ago.
Edwards was signed this week. They're at least a week away from punter Joseph Charlton returning from injured reserve.