STRATEGY AND PERSONNELThe Panthers signed tight end/fullback Casey Cramer off the Tennessee Titans practice squad and also signed free agent kicker Jeff Chandler to shoulder the kicking duties against the Cardinals.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Cramer, who played at Dartmouth, was a seventh-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in April and was cut in late August.
The Panthers signed Chandler to the practice squad in the event John Kasay won't be able to kick Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers made a decision on Friday to elevate Chandler to the 53-man roster after placing RB Joey Harris on the IR. To make room for Cramer, the Panthers released defensive tackle Omari Jordan. The team also cut safety Ed Canonico from the practice squad in order to sign Chandler.
Chandler spent parts of the 2002 and 2003 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and has converted 14 of 19 field goal attempts during his brief career. He attended training camp earlier this year with the Jacksonville Jaguars but was beaten out by rookie Josh Scobee.
Chandler played at Florida, where he finished his career as the Gators' fifth all-time leading scorer with 368 points. His 83.3 field goal percentage stands second in SEC history.
Kasay injured his right calf during Sunday's win over the 49ers, and his status for this week's game remains up in the air. Punter Todd Sauerbrun, who handled extra points and field goals after Kasay went down, will likely continue to work on kickoffs for the Panthers.
The Panthers view Cramer as a fullback rather than a tight end.
"We needed another fullback. Right now, Nick Goings is covering a lot of duty as a running back," coach John Fox said. "With Brad Hoover and Kris Mangum (injured), we felt like we needed a fullback/tight end type guy."
--QB Jake Delhomme has a hairline fracture in his right thumb and will be day-to-day this week. In all likelihood, if there's any way he can play this week, he will. But he might not be effective in making all throws.
--RB Brandon Bennett could see an increased role in Carolina's offense this week with FB Brad Hoover hurting and RB Joey Harris on the IR.
--RB Nick Goings had 92 yards from scrimmage last week and will again get some carries for Carolina.
--TE Kris Mangum is still nursing a neck injury and might not suit up this week.
--TE Mike Seidman could see more action for the Panthers in a receiving role this week.
--FB Brad Hoover missed practice but is likely to play against the Cardinals despite a hip contusion. The Panthers were worried the injury might be worse, but it is not.
GAME PLAN:The Panthers enter Sunday's game with no weapons in the backfield. In fact, Brandon Bennett might even get some carries this week after scoring a touchdown in his first carry last Sunday. But expect the Panthers to throw the ball if Jake Delhomme is healthy. Delhomme has thrown for 602 yards and six touchdowns the last two weeks. On defense, the Panthers could have some problems stopping Emmitt Smith on the ground. Arizona holds a huge size advantage over the Panthers, especially with Kris Jenkins out. Look for the Cardinals to pound the ball straight ahead at Carolina's interior defense, especially with Dan Morgan out.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:Panthers secondary vs. Cardinals QB Josh McCown -- Even though Anquan Bolding has returned to the lineup, he hasn't been nearly as effective as the Cardinals thought. Arizona's passing game hasn't put up a lot of big plays, and the Cardinals might struggle against a decent Carolina secondary. The Panthers get nickel back Artrell Hawkins back this week and are playing with a lot of confidence, coming off a game in which they forced five turnovers. The Panthers should be able to pressure McCown into some mistakes.
INJURY IMPACT:The Panthers list 11 players on their injury report, but only linebacker Dan Morgan (concussion) is officially out.
Quarterback Jake Delhomme (thumb), fullback Brad Hoover (hip), tight end Kris Mangum (neck), and kicker John Kasay (calf) are all questionable and did not practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Brian Allen (pectoral) and cornerback Artrell Hawkins (hamstring) are also listed as questionable, but both practiced.
Of that group, Mangum and Hoover are probably the least likely to play.
Asked if he's ever been on a team with so many injuries, Panthers head coach John Fox said, "I'd be hard-pressed to remember one. I'd have to go back and look, but it's been a long time."
Despite all of the injuries, Fox has a pretty good idea who will be ready on Sunday, he just isn't letting the media know right now.
"It's not quite as in flux as it may sound," Fox said. "This is a typical work week, and sometimes you've got guys that are going to be questionable and game-day decisions. I think every team goes through that."