Originally created 11/06/01

Injuries force Panthers to look help



CHARLOTTE, N.C -- Chris Weinke is questionable for Carolina's game against St. Louis because of a sprained throwing shoulder, and his backup is out at least six weeks with a foot injury.

The quarterback situation is so bad in Carolina that coach George Seifert said Monday that Jeff Lewis is on the Panthers' list of prospects to bring in for help.

"We're working a list as we speak," Seifert said. "Just as we're talking about who's available, (Lewis) is one of the names that was brought up."

Lewis' return would signify the lowest point in a horrendous season for the Panthers (1-7).

Lewis was supposed to be Carolina's starter this season but was so bad during the preseason he was cut before the first game in favor of three quarterbacks who had never thrown a regular-season pass.

Weinke has started the first eight games, but sprained his right shoulder in Sunday's 23-6 loss to Miami. He said he'll have an MRI exam on Tuesday to see just how bad the injury is.

"Right now I can't pick up my shoulder," he said. "As far as me throwing, the day after is always tougher, but if we continue to treat it, who knows?"

Weinke said his shoulder was injured on three hits that drove him into the ground.

After he was taken out of the game in the third quarter, his backup was injured shortly after throwing his first NFL pass. Dameyune Craig will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his foot.

He originally thought he wasn't hurt badly, but an MRI exam on Monday revealed otherwise.

"When they say sprain, the first thing you think about is being a little sore," Craig said. "But when I got up got today and tried to walk a little bit I realized it was pretty serious."

That leaves Matt Lytle as the only healthy quarterback on the roster. Making his first NFL appearance in emergency relief, Lytle was 2-for-4 for seven yards and was sacked twice.

Still, he could practice all week as the first-string quarterback.

"I've got to prepare myself for being the starter this week," Lytle said.

In the meantime, the Panthers worked out two free-agent quarterbacks Monday who have not played at all this season. Michael Van Raaphorst, who played at Southern California, and Ken Mastrole from Maryland both auditioned for the coaching staff.

Seifert said he wasn't sure what direction the Panthers will end up going in.

"I'm trying to get a complete picture of where we are with Chris Weinke, as well as Matt Lytle, and I want to get the final say as far as Dameyune is concerned," he said. "I don't have all the facts and that will influence what we do.

"We are looking at both options - a veteran quarterback and somebody that would give us some depth."