The Back-Up Plan

It's just part of the game. Injuries can and will happen at any time to any team. Some injuries have more of a direct impact on a team than others. But planning and adjustments by the coaching staff oftentimes can make the difference between a winning season and a losing season. The recent losses of Stephen Davis (knee) and Steve Smith (leg) to injuries have caused the Carolina Panthers to re-evaluate their current offensive lineups.

It's just part of the game. Injuries can and will happen at any time to any team. Some injuries have more of a direct impact on a team than others. But planning and adjustments by the coaching staff oftentimes can make the difference between a winning season and a losing season. The recent losses of Stephen Davis (knee) and Steve Smith (leg) to injuries have caused the Carolina Panthers to re-evaluate their current offensive lineups.

Last week we saw back up Deshaun Foster forced once again to take a starting role in the running back position. Rookie wide receiver Keary Colbert got his first start as a wide receiver for the Panthers after Steve Smith was lost for at least ten weeks after suffering a broken leg in last Monday night's loss to the Green Bay Packers. Fortunately for the Panthers, both players excelled in their roles, helping the Panthers to a huge win against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Coach John Fox considers himself very fortunate to have both players on the team. During his weekly ‘From the Foxhole' this week, Coach Fox talked about the impact of having everyone on team participate, "I think it's huge. I felt good about the people that were stepping in there. As I mentioned to the team, there are no redshirts. Everybody has a scholarship, and there are 53 of us. We chose the players because we believed in them and we think they have the opportunity to help us either start or play and win for us. I thought Keary Colbert and Detain Foster both stepped in and did a nice job, and I think overall as a team we improved. "

Unfortunately for some teams, they do not have that luxury. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons saw their season end before it began when quarterback Mike Vick suffered a broken leg and couldn't return until late in the season. The Falcons never could recover, finishing a miserable 5-11 and causing coach Dan Reeves his coaching position. The New Orleans Saints faced a similar issue across many positions and because of the loss to key injuries, couldn't put together a winning season. This season has already seen many teams having to deal with key players going down to injuries. The New York Jets, off to a 2-0 start, has lost middle linebacker Sam Cowert for the year to an ACL tear. Fortunately for the Jets, rising star Jonathan Vilma, who had a great pre-season should help fill the void that Cowert will leave in the middle for the Jets. The Kansas City Chiefs and their fans are holding their breath this week as star running back Priest Holmes recovers from an ankle sprain suffere d during last week's loss to Carolina. He is listed as day to day. If he is not able to go, third year back Derrick Blaylock will fill in. Blaylock, although a capable back and an excellent pass option in the backfield, is no Holmes. Cleveland Browns rookie tight end Kellen Winslow has been lost for at least two months after suffering a broken leg in last week's loss during an onsides kick recovery attempt. Winslow was showing promise as an excellent offensive target for the Browns, who were already struggling to produce consistent points this season. The Washington Redskins, still excited by the return of coach Gibbs, saw the effects of losing starting offensive lineman Joe Jansen as Clinton Portis was held in check in last week's loss to the New York Giants. This year, the New Orleans Saints are already thinking it's deja vous all over again as starting running back Duece McAllister is lost for at least four weeks with a leg injury. Back ups Aaron Stecker and Ki-jana Carter will share the workload in the backfield.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is only week two. How teams react to these losses of key players can and will affect how they play and end up at the end of the season. The good news for the Panthers is that Stephen Davis's injury is short-term and as long as Deshaun Foster can hold on to the ball, there shouldn't be much loss of talent. As far as other teams, only time and adjustments will tell whether or not this was a season to be forgotten for many teams.

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