CHARLOTTE – The first round of roster cuts proved even more painful than usual for the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday with the announcement that Wallace Wright, a player expected to make the 53-man roster, was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Wright was one of three wide receivers and one of two former University of North Carolina players impacted by moves made Tuesday by the Panthers that reduced their roster from 80 to 75 per NFL rules.
Fellow wide receivers Dexter Jackson and Oliver Young were waived, and former Tar Heel defensive end Hilee Taylor was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that had sidelined him for the last two preseason games.
The Panthers also moved linebacker Thomas Davis, who is recovering from knee surgery, from the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list to the reserve/PUP list. The designation means that Davis won't be eligible to play for the first six weeks of the regular season.
Wright was signed as a free agent predominantly for his special teams talent shown over three seasons with the New York Jets, but he also was competing for time at receiver. He got hurt after making a catch late in the first half of Saturday's game against the Tennessee Titans, sent off on a hit delivered by defensive back Alterraun Verner that caused Wright to fumble.
"Of course we're disappointed, and so is he," head coach John Fox said. "He was a guy that we were counting on pretty heavily, both at the receiver position and in the kicking game.
"He's worked very hard this offseason and was having a tremendous camp."
Taylor underwent knee surgery last week. Since being picked in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, he has played sparingly, seeing action in 15 games on special teams and as a reserve defensive lineman.
Jackson, a former Appalachian State standout and a second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008, spent the last 12 games of the 2009 season on the Panthers' practice squad. Young was an undrafted rookie out of South Carolina State.
The Panthers play their final preseason game Thursday night at Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m., Panthers Television Network), then they have until Saturday to reduce the roster from 75 down to 53 for the regular season.