It was a tough loss for the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, having taken the rival New Orleans Saints to the brink on Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Superdome, only to lose a close one after a missed game-winning field goal attempt by Joey Slye. It might be enough to nudge head coach Ron Rivera into holding tryouts at kicker, but they have a much more pressing issue that has arisen from their battle in Louisiana.
Dontari Poe, the team’s All-Pro defensive lineman tasked with both rushing the passer and being clogging up lanes to prevent opposing halfbacks from finding their groove, is in jeopardy of not returning in 2019. The 29-year-old is feared to have suffered a torn quad, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, and if so, it’ll send him to injured reserve — ending his season.
Poe will undergo additional tests that include an MRI to determine the full extent of his injury, and the results will be revealed soon.
If Poe misses any amount of time, it’ll be a huge blow to the Panthers’ defensive front. Despite being an interior lineman, his four sacks on the year are tied for fourth-most on the team, and his presence isn’t easily replaced at the nose tackle position. Poe signed with the Panthers in 2018 on a three-year deal after spending one season with the rival Atlanta Falcons, and the 2019 season has by far been a level up over his inaugural performance in Charlotte — also solid but not nearly as impressive.
He’s been active for every game since joining the Panthers last season, but that streak is in jeopardy at the moment. And sitting at 5-6 with only five regular season games remaining to force their way into the playoffs, the Panthers can’t afford to be without him going forward.
Depending upon his MRI results, however, they may not have a choice.