Originally created 08/29/98

Winless Panthers assesses latest injuries



CHARLOTTE -- For the fourth time in as many weeks this season, the Carolina Panthers' medical staff will have a hand in determining the battered team's game plan.

Injuries had already left the Panthers thin at several spots heading into Sunday's Green Bay game, when Carolina lost at least one and as many as three more starters for extended periods.

Offensive guard Matt Campbell, who went down with a sprained left knee in the 37-30 loss to the Packers, will likely be sidelined for six weeks, coach Dom Capers said Monday.

Listed as questionable for Sunday's game in Atlanta are cornerback Doug Evans and two-time Pro Bowl kick returner Michael Bates. Evans dislocated his left thumb against Green Bay and will have the hand in a cast for about six weeks, and Bates left the game with a sprained right knee.

Campbell's twisted knee was another blow to a line that has been hampered by several injuries already this season. After Campbell went down, tackle Blake Brockermeyer got ejected for punching Green Bay's Bob Kuberski, and Capers said that if the Panthers had lost one more lineman, they would have had to move a tight end to the interior line.

In an attempt to add some depth up front, Carolina on Monday cut reserve defensive lineman Don Sasa and agreed to terms with Steve Scifres, a third-round draft pick by Dallas in 1997. Scifres spent last season with the Cowboys but was cut at the end of training camp this summer.

Capers said the Panthers (0-3) would consider shuffling personnel on the line again because of their lack of depth, but they would be unlikely to condense their playbook.

"I think we'll be able to run our offense," he said. "But I don't know if we'll be able to get any more exotic."

Hurt by injuries and execution problems, the Panthers were held without a first down for nearly half of Sunday's game -- from late in the second quarter to midway through the final quarter.

The result was that many in the original crowd of 69,723 headed for Ericsson Stadium's exits before Carolina began its failed comeback in the closing minutes, when about 30,000 people remained in the stands.

Fullback William Floyd said the most disappointing thing about the early departures was that it created an atmosphere in which the Green Bay fans were able to create more noise than their Carolina counterparts.

"The fans and the team are going to have to live with each other," said Floyd, who left the 49ers in the offseason to sign a four-year deal with the Panthers. "As long as I'm a part of this team for the next four years, I want to have the best relationship with our fans. And they should be able to have the greatest relationship with us. We're in this thing together. They want a winning team in Charlotte, but hey, we need winning fans behind us."

Voicing a similar sentiment was first-round draft pick Jason Peter, who said fans leaving early was not a problem when he played at Nebraska.

"It's kind of discouraging when you see your fans -- supposedly your fans -- leaving when they think it's over," Peter said. "But then again, you get to find out who the real fans are."

[bf]Notes:[nf] Carolina's injury list Monday did not include halfback Fred Lane, who was diagnosed with a cracked rib Sunday but kept playing. Capers said Lane was left off the injury list because he refused treatment Monday. "I'm a warrior," Lane told reporters as he left the stadium. ... Capers said Brockermeyer, who faces a possible fine by the NFL of between $5,000 and $10,000 for Sunday's punch and ejection, also was subject to an automatic fine by the team. The amount he will be assessed by the Panthers was not disclosed.