Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has a broken bone in his foot and will not play Saturday at Seattle, Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed to the Observer on Wednesday.
Lotulelei, Carolina's first-round pick in 2013, practiced Tuesday but missed Wednesday’s practice. It's unclear how he injured his foot, but the injury appears to have happened late in Tuesday's practice.
Lotulelei has been Carolina’s top defensive tackle in the past two games. He registered a career-high seven tackles and two sacks against Atlanta in Week 17 and followed that up with three tackles against the Cardinals in the wild card game.
Lotulelei suffered an ankle at Philadelphia in Week 10 and missed the next two games. Before that he had struggled through a sophomore slump, but he broke out of that with a big performance in Atlanta.
Lotulelei has played more snaps in the past two games than any other defensive tackle, tallying more than 60 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps.
His presence would be missed as the Panthers go up against Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in the league. Carolina has used Lotulelei in the previous two games against Seattle to help hold Lynch to just 105 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry.
The Panthers rotate often at defensive tackle, so Lotulelei's snaps would likely be split among Colin Cole, Kawann Short and Dwan Edwards. Defensive end Kony Ealy could also see more time on the interior as well.