Wide receiver D.J. Hackett of the Carolina Panthers has been labeled as an injury-plagued player. And for good reason.
Furthermore, he's been out this season since early August with a toe injury (there sure are a lot of toe injuries affecting the Panthers this year...). His practice reps at training camp were limited; they still are, even though the team is no longer in Spartanburg. He didn't play in any of the Panthers' preseason games last month.
But Hackett should return to the team just in the nick of time. He is expected to practice this week and should be able to start the Panthers' first regular-season game at the Chargers this Sunday. Withholding any hindrances, of course.
If Hackett really does start against the Chargers, he will play opposite No. 2 receiver Muhsin Muhammad.
Second-year player Dwayne Jarrett will fill in the No. 3 slot.
Dominique Thompson, a third-year man that caught 13 passes for 153 yards in the preseason will be the fourth option, since Ryne Robinson is still recovering from a knee injury that has nagged him the entire preseason.
The Panthers may need to sign a fifth receiver before Sunday, unless they plan to rely on a tight end, likely Dante Rosario, against the Chargers.
Jason Carter would have made the final roster in place of Thompson if he hadn't suffered a knee injury that necessitated his placement on the IR. Carter made five catches for 52 yards in three preseason games. He was placed on the IR on Aug. 25, a few days before Carolina's final preseason game.
Star receiver Steve Smith will miss the first two games of the regular season due to a suspension, handed down after he started a fight early in training camp in which he broke cornerback Ken Lucas' nose. Lucas is expected to start against the Chargers.
In 2006, his best season, Hackett recorded 45 catches for 610 yards and four touchdowns. In his career, he has received for 105 receptions, 1,394 yards, and nine touchdowns.