The Carolina Panthers improved defensive line took a hit Tuesday when veteran defensive tackle Ron Edwards was lost for the season with a dislocated left elbow.
Edwards was injured during the 30-22 win at Philadelphia on Monday night, and will need a minimum of four to six weeks to heal. The Panthers will place Edwards on injured reserve and activate defensive tackle Frank Kearse from the practice squad, coach Ron Rivera said.
Edwards, who signed as a free agent in 2011, missed all of last season after tearing his triceps during his first training camp practice with the Panthers. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Edwards has started every game this season.
With what Ron came into the season with in terms of some bumps and bruises, were happy to have gotten this far with him, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. Hes done a great job for us.
Though Edwards has just 14 tackles and one sack, his size and ability to occupy blockers has allowed rookie Luke Kuechly and the other linebackers to make plays.
Its very tough because Rons been very stout for us at the point of attack. Hes been doing a nice job, allowing those linebackers to run, Rivera said. So now the next guy up has to be able to do that.
Rivera said Sione Fua, Andre Neblett or Kearse would start Sunday at Kansas City.
Stewart hurting: Starting running back Jonathan Stewart walked slowly through the visitors locker room at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night with a bag of ice taped to both ankles.
Stewart, who missed two games early in the season with a sprained right ankle, sustained a high ankle sprain to his left foot against the Eagles, according to Rivera.
Rivera said Stewart would be evaluated day by day, although high ankle sprains often can take several weeks to heal.
Stewart supplanted Williams as the starter in Week 6 vs. Dallas. Stewart and Williams each are averaging fewer than 8.5 carries a game.
The Panthers have gone 22 games without a 100-yard rusher the longest drought in team history.
Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinksi said Stewart has not been 100 percent all season.
Hes fighting through it and hes doing the best he can with it. I know some weeks its better than others, Chudzinski said. Well just have to wait and see and hopefully we can get that thing healed up quick.
A go on Gano: New kicker Graham Gano missed an extra-point attempt on the Panthers final touchdown Monday night, but Rivera said the team will stick with him. Gano was signed last week for replace Justin Medlock, who was cut after missing three consecutive field goal attempts.
We won, Rivera said.
Gano said it was the first missed extra point in his four-year NFL career. His two misses in three seasons with the Redskins were both blocked.
Gano made his only field goal attempt against Philadelphia, from 23 yards.
It was more mechanical than anything else, Rivera said. He over-strided. His plant leg was ahead of the ball which caused him to come down on the ball and he actually caught the ground first and just pushed it to the right. Its one of those things. Youre a little bit anxious and you want to get the ball up and he took a big step.
Needing more: Rookie punter Brad Nortman struggled Monday, averaging 37.6 yards on five punts, for an average net of 31.2 yards.
The Panthers rank 30th in gross punting average and 31st in net punting average.
Hes a guy we drafted for a reason and you see those moments, Rivera said. Hes a young guy, a rookie, whos growing and getting better and better.
The thing he has to understand is hes got to start getting it done. Hes put himself in position. Hes being evaluated every day like everybody else. He just needs to start kicking the football. Hes capable of it. We see it every day. Weve seen it in games. He just has to get back to that.
On guard: The Panthers offensive line, which has been a state of flux much of this season, had a solid game at Philadelphia, including guards Garry Williams, Jeremy Bridges and Jeff Byers.
Since Geoff Hangartner moved from guard to center after the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil, the Panthers have struggled for consistency at both guard spots with rookie Amini Silatolu adjusting to the NFL.
Bridges had not played until Monday night after being signed two weeks ago.
We liked what we got from Garry, and when we put Jeremy in, you saw what that big body could do, Rivera said.
Jeremy is still working through his conditioning. We do like what we saw in the run game with him. We thought Garry did a nice job with pass protection. There was also a play where we put (Jeff) Byers in and he did a nice job as well.