CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While dealing with losing a key defender, Frank Reich was forced into a corner and, like a fighter, came out swinging in defense of his play-calling philosophy.
Addressing the media via Zoom Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers’ coach confirmed that injured linebacker Shaq Thompson underwent surgery following Monday night’s 20-17 defeat to the visiting New Orleans Saints and will be lost for the season.
Like Reich often says: “Next man up.”
#96 DeShawn Williams slammed Trevor Penning right into Shaq Thompson’s leg as he was getting up…. pic.twitter.com/0XXThsyzEw
— Video from: @TSV__1 (@TSV__1) September 18, 2023
Panthers ‘D’ Deals With Blow, Losing LB Shaq Thompson For Season
After executing the tackle of Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, Thompson attempted to rise off the Bank of America field, but Panthers defensive lineman DeShawn Williams wrestled Saints tackle Trevor Penning down on Thompson’s right ankle, fracturing his fibula.
“Successful” surgery was performed at a Charlotte-area hospital Tuesday morning, Reich said, adding the nine-year veteran was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
“So, tough loss,” Reich said. “Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s our emotional leader (but) I know the guys will pick it up for him, and I know he’s behind us and supporting us every way he can.”
Following the injury on Monday Night Football, all but a few teammates came off the bench to greet Thompson as he was loaded onto a medical cart.
Thompson tweeted Tuesday afternoon: “Minor setback, Major comeback! Don’t count me out!”
A nine-year veteran, Thompson recorded eight tackles in fewer than five quarters of action this season. He was placed on injured reserve
Thompson joins four teammates on IR, guard Brady Christensen, cornerback Jaycee Horn, outside linebacker Marquis Haynes Sr. and tight end Stephen Sullivan on IR.
As of Tuesday, the Panthers (0-2), who were preparing to meet the host Seattle Seahawks (1-1) next Sunday, had an opening on their 52-man roster. In other personnel moves, the Panthers waived cornerback Eric Rowe, but inked defensive back Matthias Farley to the practice squad.
Minor setback, Major comeback! Don’t count me out! Real panthers fans, I love y’all and I love this city, I truly felt the love in that stadium! To my teammates, I love yall boys and y’all know I’ll be here for y’all every step! #Keeppounding pic.twitter.com/UhawiBc10n
— Shaq Thompson (@ShaqThompson_7) September 19, 2023
Coach Frank Reich Defends Panthers’ Offensive Play Calls
After two failed attempts to rev up a stalled Panthers offense, Reich is starting to feel the heat for his play-calling, generating just two touchdowns in two games.
Plays of 10-plus yards were virtually non-existent.
Guided by a struggling Bryce Young, the Panthers’ rookie quarterback is averaging just 4.2 yards per pass attempt. That meager figure represents the fewest of any quarterback covering his first two starts in the Super Bowl era, according to NFL Research.
Against the Saints, Young finished 22 of 33 with 153 yards and a late TD to pull the Panthers to within a field goal, but through 57-plus minutes, he mustered just 92 passing yards.
Reich, who is grooming offensive coordinator Thomas Brown to assume future responsibilities, said it was too early to begin thinking of play-calling alterations.
“I’ve mentioned this before, the way we call plays, I’m calling the plays, but it’s very collaborative,” Reich said during his post-game news conference Monday night. “I’m talking to those guys on the sideline. I’m the one who calls ’em (and) I’m always gonna do what I think is best for the team.
“Right now, I think it’s best for the team that I’m calling the plays. I’m confident in the play-calling. We all gotta get better, but I’m not ready to do anything there. Thomas is a great coach. One day, I want him to call it. When that will be? I don’t know. But, right now, it’s a lot of things. It’s not the play-calling.”
After consecutive poor ‘O’ showings, Carolina Panthers coach Frank Reich on Monday night defended his play-calling … pic.twitter.com/JKW1oRCQ7K
— Jeff Hawkins (@WriterHawkins) September 20, 2023