Max Henson Staff Writer
Beason (knee) and Gamble (shoulder) did not participate in practice on Thursday. Beason has yet to practice this week. Gamble practiced in full on Wednesday but suffered a setback during the session.
“There is certainly concern,” head coach Ron Rivera said.
Rivera said he’s not certain at this point whether either player could end up on injured reserve. A determination on Beason and Gamble’s status for Week 7 will come down to how they respond Friday morning.
Much like the scenario in Week 5 against Seattle, Rivera said linebacker Luke Kuechly will start at middle linebacker if Beason is inactive.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn will start opposite Josh Norman in the base defense if Gamble can’t play. In nickel situations, Munnerlyn will slide to the slot and cornerback Josh Thomas will man the outside.
Rivera touted Munnerlyn’s steady play at nickel thus far and was pleased with how he and Thomas performed when needed against the Seahawks.
“I liked their physicality,” Rivera said. “(Thomas) played in 21 plays and graded out as 20 out of 21 positive. He did some nice things. It’s a good challenge, and he got all the reps that he needed today.”
READY FOR ANYTHING: When Gamble couldn’t play against Seattle and the Panthers found themselves with an empty spot on their 53-man roster after placing guard Mike Pollak on injured reserve, cornerback Ron Parker was thrust into action at the last minute.
“I didn’t have much warning at all,” Parker said. “It was a shock, but it was a good thing.”
It was the beginning of a crazy stretch for Parker, a second-year player from Newberry (S.C.) College.
The day after Parker made a special teams tackle against the Seahawks – one of the two teams he played for as a rookie – the Panthers waived him. Two days later, they re-signed him to the practice squad, putting him back where he had been before being activated on the eve of the Seattle game. Wednesday, he was added back to the 53-man roster when linebacker Kenny Onatolu went on injured reserve.
“It’s been a little wild, but I’ve just tried to stay focused and just keep my head on right and be ready for anything,” said Parker, who is expected to play a key role on special teams Sunday versus Dallas. “Whatever position they put me in, I’m going to give it my all. It was difficult at first to get that mindset because I feel like I’m a playmaker on defense, but you just have to get in your mind that you can do anything.”
They’ll do so without Richard Rodgers – kind of.
“I can’t be there,” Rodgers said. “My boss won’t let me.”
Rodgers, the Panthers’ assistant special teams coach, and Panthers head coach Ron Rivera were on the Cal team that beat Stanford with a five-lateral kickoff return on Nov. 20, 1982. Rodgers touched the ball twice on the play, which ended with teammate Kevin Moen running over a Stanford band member in the end zone.
Rodgers and Rivera obviously can’t make the trip, but they sent a video message that will be a part of the festivities. In addition, Rodgers’ son by the same name is a sophomore tight end for the Bears who will be playing at home against Stanford for the first time.
“What makes it special is that it’s the 30th anniversary and that he gets to be on the field for it and experience some of the things I experienced in college as far as the crowd and the rivalry,” Rodgers said.
Senior writer Bryan Strickland contributed to this report.