The Panthers will be without first-round pick Vernon Butler for the next few weeks.
An MRI exam on Butler’s right foot Monday confirmed a high-ankle sprain that is expected to sideline the former Louisiana Tech standout for several weeks, according to a league source.
Butler was injured while making a tackle on Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon early in the second half of Minnesota’s 22-10 victory Sunday. He had a cast on his foot Monday as he walked through the locker room.
Butler, the 30th overall pick from Louisiana Tech, has three tackles and one of the Panthers’ six sacks through his first three games.
That’s more production from a sack standpoint than the Panthers have received from Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short, who accepted the blame Sunday for the lack of an interior pass rush against Sam Bradford.
“As a defensive line, you want to see those quarterbacks get scared and move off their spots. That’s one thing we didn’t do,” Short said. “As far as up the middle, I take credit for that. We didn’t get enough push and get that guy off his spot.”
Short did not have a sack through the first four games last season, then bunched five together in back-to-back games against Seattle and Philadelphia. He finished with 11, the most by a defensive tackle in franchise history.
Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott saw signs Sunday that Short is close to breaking through.
“I thought he’s been playing well in the run game. He’s coming off the football and I thought (Sunday) he started to generate some rush later in the game,” McDermott said. “I feel like he’s starting to get in his rhythm, which is good to see. And we need him to continue to come in that area, in particular the pass game.”