Could Sam Mills be Returning?

<P>The Panthers are so short at linebacker this week, that coach George Seifert threw the name of linebackers coach Sam Mills as a possible throw in for this week...he tossed in the name of defensive coordinator John Marshall too.

"We've got Kory Minor and Nate Hemsley," Seifert said when running down the list of available linebackers for Sunday's Saints game. "And John Marshall and Sam Mills. I think there's a rule against players being coaches...but John has never played."

Of course, Seifert was joking about using former All-Pro Mills (who has a statue in his honor outside of Ericsson Stadium), but it just underscores how desperate the Panthers are.

Weak-side linebacker, and top pick, Dan Morgan is already out with a broken tibia, and is expected to be out 3-5 weeks more. Then, against San Francisco, Morgan's replacement, Dean Wells, suffered from back spasms and is listed as uncertain for Sunday, and strong-side linebacker Hannibal Navies suffered a rib injury and is unlikely to play against New Orleans.

If Wells can't play, Minor and Hemsley would start at outside linebacker and Lester Towns would move to the middle. The problem is experience. Minor is a career back-up and Hemsley just joined the Panthers last week after stints in Dallas and Miami...most of it non-playing.

There is a chance the Panthers could add a linebacker to the roster, they also have Michael Hawkes on the practice squad, and, Wednesday, they added another linebacker, Paris Johnson, to that unit.

Now, for the bigger problem, Ricky Williams in coming to town. The Panthers had some trouble with Williams last year, and he's coming in off a 136-yard performance against Minnesota.

"You try to contain Ricky Williams," notes Seifert. "He's a powerful, gifted athlete and he's definately an integral part of their success."


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