Nice.

That should give you a good idea of just how much the injury bug has decimated the defending NFC champions' once high-powered offense.

">
Nice.

That should give you a good idea of just how much the injury bug has decimated the defending NFC champions' once high-powered offense.

">

INSIDE SLANT

The Panthers offense has been reduced to this: giving the ball 24 times to 245-pound fullback Brad Hoover and throwing it about 20 yards "downfield" to 280-pound tight end Michael Gaines.<br><br> Nice.<br><br> That should give you a good idea of just how much the injury bug has decimated the defending NFC champions' once high-powered offense.<br><br>

With three of their top players on injured reserve -- wide receiver Steve Smith, running back DeShaun Foster and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins -- and starting running back Stephen Davis hamstrung by a knee injury, the Panthers have almost no offense to speak of.

With Foster, Davis and Rod Smart injured, the Panthers are left with Hoover as their primary running threat, and that term should be taken loosely.

While Hoover did rack up 99 yards on the ground Sunday, they were among the most meaningless 99 yards in all of football.

Hoover is no threat to tear off a big run, lacking the speed of a tailback.

Meanwhile, Carolina's passing game is virtually non-existent with Muhsin Muhammad and Keary Colbert -- both decent possession receivers, but neither considered big-play threats. Although Ricky Proehl has had a knack for making big plays in the past, he too has been quiet this year.

Carolina's passing game has struggled without Smith, the one player they had to stretch the defense. Smith also made those around him better players.

Against San Diego last week, Jake Delhomme threw 36 times, his longest completion going for 16 yards. He found himself throwing to Gaines, who believes himself to be the next Shannon Sharpe, but dropped two passes and watched as a defender out-jumped him for another ball, resulting in an interception.

The lack of a deep passing game is not from a lack of trying, although the offensive line has limited the amount of time Delhomme has to wait for receivers to get open.

"You want to pull your hair out when you're watching the film because we're close," Delhomme said. "If we can complete one of those long ones it's a different ballgame, but we're just not doing that right now."

Delhomme said clearly the team misses Smith but must move on.

"He was that guy, but he's not here. I have full confidence in Moose and Keary and Ricky. But we're just not hitting them," Delhomme said.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will be without Davis again this week.

Head coach John Fox wasted no time Wednesday declaring Davis out for Sunday's game against the Seahawks because of a lingering knee injury.

"It's frustrating. I would imagine that he is right now, too," Fox said. "Until the medical people clear him and we evaluate him, even then if the guy doesn't look like he is 100 percent, I won't play him."

At this point, Fox said Davis doesn't need additional surgery, just more rest.

Asked if he's concerned about the long-term affects from the knee problems, Davis said, "Am I concerned? Nah, not concerned. Pissed off. Mad. But things happen for a reason. I've got to deal with it... I'm mad at not playing. Mad I'm not out there with my teammates, all of it."

Davis has missed five games this season because of his knee. He has not practiced with the team since carrying 15 times for 66 yards in a 30-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 17.

Asked whether Davis might miss more than a week, Fox replied, "We want to rest it and see what next week brings. Next week, he will be day-to-day in my judgment of things."


Panther Insider Top Stories