The Day After: Jaycee Horn set for lengthy absence

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CHARLOTTE — Panthers head coach Matt Rhule was hurting after he talked to cornerback Jaycee Horn.

Not necessarily because of what the loss of the rookie with a broken foot will do to his football team, but because of what Horn represents.

Rhule said that Horn broke three bones in his right foot, calling it a "really, really freakish injury."

When Horn went down with the non-contact injury last night, Rhule said: "My mind was racing. ... Jaycee doesn't lay down that often."

"I think Jaycee Horn is a warrior," Rhule said of his first-round pick. "I think he's tough; I think he's everything that's right about young people, everything that's right about football.

"He has to take this and let it make him better, and I know he will. Some people get broken by adversity, and for some people adversity makes them that much better."

Rhule said Horn and his family are still talking through the next steps, and that at this point, they don't know if it will be season-ending or not.

They will get veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye back in time for next week's game at Dallas. Bouye only had one practice after his suspension ended, which followed a long layoff since a training camp injury.

"He's a true pro," Rhule said of Bouye. "He was ready this past week and we made the decision to keep him down and get him another couple practices before we play next week. I expect A.J. to play next week against the Cowboys."

It's too soon to know what it will do to them schematically, but the loss of a player such as Horn is not the kind of thing that's easily made up for.

— Speaking of making up for losses, Rhule said he did think the Panthers were better equipped to handle the loss of running back Christian McCaffrey this year than they were last year — when he missed 13 games and the team went 5-11.

McCaffrey's going to miss "a few weeks," but Rhule didn't know if it would be from one to four or whether it would end up with him going on IR.

Rhule said he had a quick conversation with left tackle Cameron Erving after Erving defended the team's ability to bounce back by saying: "I mean, we're a football team. We're not called the Carolina Christian McCaffreys."

"I told him not to worry about that statement," Rhule said of Erving. "That's what Christian McCaffrey wants. He wants it to be not just about him but be about everybody else. Christian's the ultimate leader and teammate. We'll miss him on the field, but certainly we'll miss him off the field. . . .

"I want to make sure I said that. Christian is one of the best teammates I've ever been around. He doesn't want this to be this team. I want our guys, all of them, everyone to do their job. Cam does his job, (Shaq Thompson) does his job, and if we don't have Christian, those guys just all have to overcome it."

Robby Anderson

— After another slow night, Rhule said it was important to get wide receiver Robby Anderson back to speed.

In three games, Anderson has five catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, with more than half that production coming on a 57-yard score in the opener.

"We have to get Robby going as an offense," Rhule said. "I'm going in every week saying let's make sure we get Robby really involved, because I want us to be this five-headed monster. Take away him, and this guy's there. And it hasn't quite clicked yet.

"I believe it will come. Robby's been such a good teammate about it. . . . But he has to be frustrated by it, he's such a good player, such a good teammate, he's not really getting involved. The ultimate goal is winning, but I think having everyone involved will help us win. so that will be a point of emphasis for us this week."

— Rhule also said he wasn't sure if veteran safety Juston Burris would need to go on injured reserve (which would knock him out for at least three weeks) after Burris pulled a groin muscle Thursday night.

Sean Chandler played 44 snaps (80 percent of the team total, a career high) on defense with Burris out last night, and they also have Sam Franklin (who played 15 snaps last night) in the mix if he's out for a period of time. Burris is a versatile player who does a number of things (including playing nickel in some coverages), and that makes it difficult for one young player to replace him.

View the best photos from Carolina's 24-9 win over Houston in Week 3.

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