The Panthers’ top two edge rushers and the guy being paid most handsomely to keep pass rushers off Carolina quarterback Cam Newton are all questionable for Sunday’s game at Detroit.
Defensive ends Julius Peppers and Mario Addison and left tackle Matt Kalil are all listed as questionable, although Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he feels good about their chances of playing against the Lions.
Addison, who hyperextended his knee in the victory at New England, was limited during Friday’s practice. Kalil, who injured his groin Thursday, and Peppers, who has been dealing with a shoulder issue, did not participate in any drills other than the walkthrough.
“For the most part those guys I’m feeling really good about, I really am,” Rivera said. “All three of them got walkthrough reps and Mario was limited in his participation, but he participated nonetheless. So you feel good about those guys performing and getting out there on the practice field.”
Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil (neck) will miss his fourth consecutive game, and safeties Kurt Coleman (knee) and Demetrious Cox (ankle) also are out.
The injuries to Coleman and Cox forced the Panthers to sign veteran safety Jairus Byrd, who will rotate with Colin Jones early in the game until coaches decide who to stick with opposite Mike Adams.
“You do have a steadying force out there,” Rivera said of Adams. “And you throw Colin Jones in the mix ... and Jairus Byrd, and what you have is a veteran group of guys that can rotate and keep things settled and calm.”
The Panthers paid Matt Kalil $55.5 million to keep things settled and calm where Newton’s blind side is concerned. After allowing three sacks in a loss to New Orleans, Kalil bounced back with a strong showing last week in the victory over the Patriots.
But Kalil was held out Friday, a day after he felt a twinge in his groin at practice.
If Kalil can’t go, Rivera said his backup would likely be Amini Silatolu over rookie tackle Taylor Moton, who has been working more on the right side.
Silatolu was a guard during his first stint with the Panthers, although the second-round pick in 2012 was a left tackle at Division II Midwestern State.
“That’s a position I fell in love in with in college and had to transition over to guard in the league,” Silatolu said. “I had to get back into it at training camp. I felt comfortable with it.”
Whether it’s Kalil or Silatolu, he’ll be matched up against Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft. Ansah has been dealing with a knee issue, but had a three-sack game against the Giants in Week 2.
Silatolu said he had not seen the video of that game, but knows Ansah’s reputation for being long (he’s 6-5, 275), with speed and bull-rush moves.
“He looks pretty good,” Silatolu said. “(But) I think we can block him up.”