5 Carolina Panthers Who Cannot Afford to Get Hurt in 2012

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5 Carolina Panthers Who Cannot Afford to Get Hurt in 2012
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Jon Beason (52) injured his Achilles tendon in Week 1 and was lost for the entire 2011 season.

The Carolina Panthers were decimated by injuries in 2011, and they cannot afford to suffer the same fate in 2012 if they are going to live up to heightened expectations.

Carolina's defense was especially hard-hit on the defensive line and at linebacker, and it showed in its final defensive rankings in 2011.

The Panthers finished the season ranked 24th vs. the pass, 25th vs. the run, 27th in scoring defense and 28th in total defense. 

Carolina's offense was not completely immune to injury either, but it fared much better than the defense in 2011, finishing third in rushing, fifth in points, seventh in total offense and 13th in passing yards.

Football is a team game, though, and both units need to remain healthy for a successful Panthers season in 2012.

 

Early and Often

The superstitious would argue the Panthers initiated their own string of bad luck last season by drafting PUP-bound cornerback Brandon Hogan in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft.

Hogan tore his ACL in his final collegiate game against Rutgers, and he could not practice or play until late in the season.

David Gettis (ACL) and defensive tackle Ron Edwards (biceps) each suffered season-ending injuries in training camp last year and never saw the field.

Starting linebackers Jon Beason (Achilles) and Thomas Davis (ACL) were lost to injury in the first two games of the season, and starting right tackle Jeff Otah (left knee) only made it through Week 4.

Sione Fua (hamstring) and Terrell McClain (sprained knee), both third-round draft picks who started the first 12 games of the season, were placed on injured reserve following the Panthers' Week 13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

Fresh Start in 2012

Carolina's roster is much healthier entering the 2012 NFL preseason and training camp.

Projected No. 3 wide receiver David Gettis is the only player not quite ready to return to practice this week, according to the AP's Steve Reed.

Gettis is on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list heading into training camp, but it appears to only be a precautionary measure, and he should be back on the field soon.

Carolina traded the injury-prone Otah to the New York Jets just four days before the start of camp.

The rest of the Panthers roster has a clean bill of health heading into final preparations for the 2012 NFL season.

Injuries are an unavoidable truth in professional football, and no NFL team is likely to be injury-free in 2012, but there are five key players the Carolina Panthers cannot afford to lose this season.

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