If there’s one aspect of your football team you want to be brief going into a game like this, it’s the injury report. Fortunately for both Carolina and Seattle, that’s exactly what they’re getting this week.
The big news, obviously, is the return of Marshawn Lynch. There are a few players in the league whose very presence on the sideline is a boost to his team. Lynch is one of them. Beyond the simple improvement of getting on the plane, he will be an asset on the field against a stout Carolina run defense. He rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown in Seattle’s last game against the Panthers in week 6.
Will Tukuafu is the only Seahawk unlikely to take the field. His role was expanding in the offense to this point, but Derrick Coleman is also a more than capable fullback. Tukuafu was forced to play defensive tackle in week 6 due to injuries on the line. His versatility is what the coaches love, but a healthy Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill will make desperation plays such as that much less likely. Hill and Mebane will also make life much more difficult for Cam Newton and company, as Hill missed the previous tilt, as did Bobby Wagner.
For the Panthers, RB Jonathan Stewart will start after missing the final three games of the regular season. Ted Ginn Jr. has had a case of the drops recently, and he is questionable to play in this game with a knee injury. Ginn has had more impact as a punt returner than as a receiver, however. If Ginn can’t go, former practice squad CB Robert McClain is next on the Panthers’ depth chart on punt returns.