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.
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“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.”