CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers open their season against the visiting Eagles on Sept. 13. Which means they've got to get healthy in a hurry.
The Panthers, who dropped to 0-3 in the preseason after Saturday night's loss to Baltimore, entered training camp with 10 returning defensive starters and a new defensive coordinator, Ron Meeks, intent on emphasizing the speed and quickness on the roster. But run-stuffing defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu ruptured his Achilles' tendon not 30 minutes into the first practice, and it's only gotten worse for Meeks.
Jon Beason, Carolina's middle linebacker and team leader, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the second preseason game against Miami and is questionable for the opener.
Outside linebacker Thomas Davis is recovering from his own sprained MCL and missed his third straight game Saturday. Free safety Charles Godfrey hopes to be ready for Week 1 despite a broken hand.
"It hurts not having your horses," defensive tackle Damione Lewis said.
The defense plans to focus on tackling this week, even though there will be no full-contact work before Thursday's exhibition finale against Pittsburgh.
"We're trying to get everybody healthy," coach John Fox said. "If some healthy guys come back we might try to give them a little shot in there just so Philadelphia in our opener's not the first time they're out there."