The dismissal of general manager Marty Hurney wasn’t the only thing that shook the Carolina Panthers’ world on Monday.
Starting cornerback Chris Gamble was placed on the injured reserve list, ending his season.
Gamble, in his ninth season, has been bothered by a shoulder problem that will require surgery. He initially hurt his shoulder in a loss at Atlanta and sat out the Seattle game Oct. 7. He returned to practice after the bye week but aggravated the injury and missed the Dallas game on Sunday.
“We’re going to have to go forward without him. He’s going to have to get that shoulder taken care of,” Rivera said.
In Gamble’s absence, the Panthers moved Captain Munnerlyn into the starting spot. When the Panthers are in the nickel package, Josh Thomas moves to cornerback and Munnerlyn slides back to the nickel position. Rookie Josh Norman starts at the other cornerback spot.
“We played a couple of times without him and the young guys stepped up, played pretty good,” Rivera said. “We’re going to lose a veteran player but we have some young guys who are playing some pretty good football so we’ll go from there.”
Rivera, who will have the final say on personnel matters with Hurney gone, said the team has not yet signed a replacement for Gamble but he expects the Panthers to add a player.
The loss of Gamble comes two weeks after the Panthers put Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil on injured reserve with a foot injury.
The of status injured linebacker Jon Beason remains undetermined. Beason has been sidelined the past two games with a knee injury.
“We’re still waiting on that one. So we’ll see,” Rivera said. “If Jon pans out to be A-OK, then we expect Jon to get ready to play some football this year.”
In the Panthers’ 19-14 loss to the Cowboys, running back DeAngelo Williams was on the field for five plays. Williams, who received a five-year, $43-million contract extension in 2011, had two carries for 5 yards against Dallas. He has eight carries for 10 yards in the past two games.
Rivera said the decision was made prior to the game to focus more on running back Jonathan Stewart, pairing him with Mike Tolbert in hopes of generating some rhythm in an offensive unit that has been inconsistent.
“We came with a specific group and Jonathan was the guy so we tried to stick with that and see how that would go and that’s part of the decisions that we make as we game plan and go through the week to prepare. For what happened, we felt Jonathan would have been better for us,” Rivera said.
The Panthers gained 328 yards against the Cowboys. Their 335 yards per game average this season is 54 yards below what they averaged last season.
Their per-game rushing average has dropped from 150 yards per game last season to 113 yards this season.
Rivera said there will be changes to the Panthers’ offense but he did not offer specifics.
“There’s some things changing and like I said as we prepare for opponents we’re going to work certain things and we’re going to stick to certain things and we’re going to go forward with those decisions that are being made,” Rivera said.
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