Bryan Strickland Senior Writer
CHARLOTTE – Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell was able to return to Sunday’s game at Chicago after taking a shot to the head, but he wouldn’t be able to play if the Panthers had a game today.
“When I talked to him, I felt pretty confident. He was very upbeat about it,” Rivera said. “He was concerned about his neck being sore, and I said, ‘Well, now you know what a linebacker feels like.’ ”
LaFell left early in the third quarter after a personal foul on Bears safety Chris Conte sent him to the turf, but he was able to jog off on his own power and returned to action soon after. LaFell finished the game with three catches for 88 yards, highlighted by a 62-yarder in the first half.
“During the game, after he took the hit, they took him inside to examine him. At that point, he had passed the (NFL’s concussion) protocol, and that’s why he was able to go back into the game,” Rivera said. “But come Monday morning, his neck was stiff and sore, and he complained of having a headache. Because of that, they went into the protocol.
“They examined him further, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow. He seemed pretty confident, but you’ve got to go through the process.”
LONG INJURY LINE: The Panthers were without defensive ends Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) and Thomas Keiser (elbow) against the Bears. They were joined on the sideline Wednesday by a pair of fellow linemen.
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards didn’t practice after sustaining an ankle injury that brought his strong showing against the Bears to a premature conclusion. Also, defensive end Frank Alexander didn’t make it through the entirety of Wednesday’s practice because of a concern with his knee.
“Frank was a little bit sore,” Rivera explained. “He came out and started the practice, but probably halfway through practice he started complaining about it a little bit. They wanted to ice it down just to be safe.
“We’re down already with Keiser and Applewhite with injuries. We’ve just to be careful. We’ve got to get Frank to Sunday, so they just felt like that was the best thing to do.”
With Applewhite and Keiser out last week, the Panthers signed undrafted rookie Nate Chandler off the practice squad and moved him from tackle to end. Defensive tackle Frank Kearse was waived to make room on the roster but was signed to the practice squad Tuesday.
NO TD: Hearing linebacker Thomas Davis‘ name mentioned in the same sentence as the word “knee” can be disconcerting, but Davis’ absence from practice Wednesday shouldn’t lead to a knee-jerk reaction.
Instead, it’s just the reality for a player coming off a third major knee injury in less than two years.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve got to find time to give him a rest every once in a while,” Rivera said. “The tough thing now, with Jon (Beason) not around, is that we’ve had to increase Thomas’ reps, so we’re going to find out that he’s going to be a lot more sore.
“At times on Wednesdays, we’re going to have to take him out, Thursdays we may have to cut his reps, and Fridays he’ll take the bulk as long as he’s feeling better. But he was out there shadowing everybody, so it wasn’t as if he wasn’t around. We just want to keep him off the field.”
GETTIS UPDATE: With LaFell sitting out, wide receiver David Gettis got some significant work Wednesday, but no decision on his status has been made.
The Panthers have until next week to decide whether to bring Gettis off of the Physically Unable to Perform list and onto the active roster for the first time since he was a rookie in 2010.
“He practiced, took some snaps with the first bunch as well,” Rivera said. “We’ll see how he is later in the week.”