The Panthers rested all of their starters in Thursday’s exhibition finale against Pittsburgh rather than risk injury before the games count.
The second-teamers didn’t get that luxury.
Rookie wideout Curtis Samuel was one of three players who left the Steelers’ 17-14 victory with injuries, when he limped into the locker room in the second half with a sprained ankle.
But Samuel said the injury isn’t serious and he expects to be ready for the Sept. 10 opener at San Francisco.
“It’s nothing major, nothing to worry about,” he said.
Samuel, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, said after the game that he twisted his ankle when a Pittsburgh defender fell on it after he caught a screen pass on the second play of the third quarter.
“After that I couldn’t really put too much pressure on my ankle. I really couldn’t walk,” Samuel said. “But now I’m fine. I just gotta from here take care of my ankle.”
While Samuel appeared to dodge a bullet, a couple of cornerbacks on the roster bubble are dealing with their own injuries.
Veteran Teddy Williams left in the first half with a shoulder stinger, while second-year corner Zack Sanchez aggravated a groin injury that ended his rookie season in November.
“Hopefully it’s just scar tissue breaking up. A couple guys have had the same kind of issue,” Sanchez said. “So hopefully that’s the most of my problems, which is normally a week to heal. I’ll know more (Friday) when I wake up.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the injury came at a tough time for Sanchez, who has played well the past two weeks. Sanchez had a good showing in the joint practices at Tennessee, and intercepted a pass in last week’s win at Jacksonville.
Sanchez, one of three corners drafted last year, hopes he’s done enough to make the 53-man roster after Saturday’s final cuts.
“Especially since Tennessee week, I felt like I pressed really hard and hopefully opened the coaches’ eyes and hopefully earned my spot on this team,” Sanchez said. “But I won’t know until Saturday.”