CHARLOTTE — The Panthers cross-train defensive backs at multiple positions anyway, and that has already come into play in a couple of games this year.
Now, they have to wait to see if they need to start a game in a different alignment, after safety Jeremy Chinn left Sunday's loss to the Cardinals with a hamstring injury.
Chinn played just six snaps before leaving the game. He was on a stationary bike briefly and walked the sidelines without a helmet throughout the rest of the game.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Monday he didn't have a timeline for Chinn, saying he hadn't gotten an update from the medical personnel.
"He is injured, but how long it is, I don't know," Rhule said.
The Panthers mixed and matched coverages after he left, using both Myles Hartsfield and Sean Chandler there. They don't know at the moment if they'll have to go that route this week, but cornerback Jaycee Horn said the expectation is the same.
"Jeremy's a great player," Horn said Monday. "It'll be different for sure because he communicates real well in the back end, he's a straight tackler, he plays hard. But we're not expecting a huge drop-off, and we're not panicking, because we've got other great players in the room that's going to step up and make plays."
They've had to adjust in games before, as veteran safety Xavier Woods missed a couple of plays late the previous week against the Saints, and Hartsfield was able to cover the end of the game.
Woods said that even if practice squad safeties Juston Burris or Marquise Blair have to fill in, the reality is that fill-ins are always needed.
"It's next man up, whether it be Myles or it be Champ (Chandler), or JB or Blair, whoever it is, it's next man up. We have full faith and full trust in those guys to come in and execute and not lose a step.
"I mean, over the course of years, never will you have all 11 guys that you started with. You'll never have the same guys consistently over 17 games, so it's constantly next man up. That's why the ones and twos have to prepare the same way because the twos will become the ones, whether that's an injury or from a guy not playing as well. It just happens."
Hartsfield, who also plays nickel on a regular basis in addition to backing up at safety, said that having a veteran like Woods helps the rest of the group in such situations.
"He's the veteran in the room that we go to with questions, Hartsfield said. "He has the answers before the play even happens. So just having that, someone who has been around and done it, that's special to have in the room."
– Some members of the Panthers' offense offered perspective on mitigating the impacts from multiple batted passes, which hurt Carolina in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals.
Five Baker Mayfield passes were batted by Arizona defenders, bringing the Panthers' quarterback up to 10 total batted balls this season – the most in the NFL.
From backup quarterback PJ Walker's perspective, the problem isn't Mayfield's height (listed at 6-foot-1), and Walker isn't sure if there is a schematic change that could help either. Walker said an adjustment to Mayfield's arm angle could help as he battles the batted passes, and he could also avoid patting the football before passing.
"Defenders are savvy," Walker said. "They read the quarterback the way we read defenders. Some of these guys are told, 'When the quarterbacks pat the ball, put your hands up.' So that's why a lot of these quarterback coaches try to get you to not pat the ball."
Right tackle Taylor Moton said the inquiry into batted balls raised a "good question" he sought to answer with his performance.
"If I see someone jump, (I can) try to get their hands down," Moton said. "Do whatever I can to help in that process, . . ."Just try to snatch them down when I see them jump up, pretty much. There's not much else I can think of. (If defenders) jump, just try to snatch them down."
Moton said he saw plenty of jumping from Arizona's defense, including JJ Watt, who tipped one of Mayfield's passes into Dennis Gardeck's grip for an interception that set up a short Cardinals touchdown drive.
"I just focus on what I can do," Moton said. "Keeping the guys down as much as I can. That's all I can control about it."
— Rhule was asked multiple questions Monday about his own status but said he wasn't going to delve too deeply in terms of his conversations with owner David Tepper or worry about his own future.
"If I make it about me, I'm not really being the kind of coach I want to be and say I am," Rhule said. "It's always about the players; it's always about the team. We're 1-3. With this team, we've been in some close ball games. We had a chance last night; it just wasn't good enough last night.
"As the head coach, I'll always stand up first and put it on my shoulders, but I think at the end of the day, we're just going to keep trying to get better."
— Rhule didn't have much in the way of injury updates since guys were still awaiting test results Monday. But he said that when wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. left the game with a hamstring injury, it was actually the other leg from the hamstring issue he had in practice last week.
That complicated the offensive game-planning a bit as well, since they had ideas in mind for him after his 67-yard touchdown catch-and-run the week before. He took a snap out of a wildcat set Sunday as they tried to implement some new looks.
View the best photos from pregame, in-game, halftime and after Sunday's game against Arizona.