There are a bunch of question marks surrounding key players on both sides of Sunday’s Carolina Panthers-New Orleans Saints game – and possibly some gamesmanship, as well.
The Panthers listed five players as questionable for the 4:25 p.m. game for first place in the NFC South, and all of them are big names – tight end Greg Olsen (foot), running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder), linebackers Thomas Davis (hamstring) and Shaq Thompson (foot) and center Ryan Kalil (neck).
The only Panthers player listed as out is third-team offensive tackle John Theus, who has an illness.
Meanwhile, the Saints have three players who are questionable, including two of their top three cornerbacks – Marshon Lattimore (ankle) and P.J. Williams (shoulder). Left tackle Terron Armstead, who left last week’s loss to the Rams with shoulder and thigh injuries, also is questionable.
Olsen returned last week against the Jets after missing more than two months with a broken foot. He left in the third quarter after aggravating the foot, although tests revealed he had not broken it again.
Olsen had his helmet with him when he walked into the practice facility Friday morning, but did not participate in any of the drills, according to the team. The Pro Bowler did not practice at all this week.
“We’ll see how he is (Saturday) morning. He did a little bit of work,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll see how it is, and same thing with Christian and Thomas.”
McCaffrey, the versatile rookie from Stanford, injured his shoulder against the Jets and was limited Thursday and Friday. Davis, who pulled his hamstring late in the win against the Jets, also was limited.
Thompson said he expected to play against the Saints. Kalil was active last week, but did not see action against the Jets.
Rivera was cautiously optimistic all of the players listed as questionable would be able to play in the matchup between 8-3 teams.
“But I don’t want to get ahead of myself just because (Saturday) is a really big day,” he said. “It’s one of those things when you increase more work, sometimes something shows up. So we’ll see how they are (Saturday).”