Three Down for the Count

<P>Some guys just can't buy a break. Running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka had just broken 100 yards for the first time this year, and he goes down for the season with a broken foot. After battling through fumbling problems early in the year, he finally seemed to be on track, but it wasn't to be, as Biakabutuka's long injury history gets another chapter.

Coach George Seifert has had a soft spot in his heart for Biakabutuka, and really felt this loss.

"He always wanted to be the guy and it seemed like something was always happening to thwart that," Seifert noted. "And then he had the fumbling problems and he wasn't cancerous in the locker room as some people might be. When we sat him down for a week, he dealt with it like a man and he worked at getting better, and everything finally came to fruition. I feel terrible for him from that standpoint."

As it turns out, Biakabutuka's injury has been more serious than first realized. The metatarsals in his foot were raised out of place and jammed above the tarsals.

"It tore the ligaments and broke some bones in the upper part of the foot," says Seifert. "Basically, it just seperated. The ligaments, tendons and bone broke, so it all had to be put back together."

Biakabutuka will not be able to play football again until, at least, next summer.


Biakabutuka is not the only Panthers done for the year, guard Kevin Donalley is finished with a torn ACL, and linebacker Hannibal Navies has been put on the IR with a broken arm.

As a result, the Panthers have been busy in the roster management department. Three of the signees are linebackers, Rob Holmberg (the Panthers will be his 6th team in 8 NFL seasons), Darren Hambrick (who was let go by Dallas on Monday) and Jeff Posey (who spent three years with San Francisco, and started 13 games in that time). They also picked up guard Duane Ledford, who is from the area, having played his college ball at East Carolina. To make room for the fourth, the club released linebacker Michael Hawkes.

They've also made some practice squad moves, signing former Wake Forest running back Morgan Kane (who was on the squad in last year's training camp) and released linebacker Paris Johnson and long snapper Nathan Hodel.


Punter Todd Sauerbrun, who I predicted would be the Panthers most valuable player this year, was the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week. He averaged 55.8 yards per punt against Washington and had four kicks inside the 20-yard-line.

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