Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei out three weeks with foot injury

Carolina Panthers Star Lotulelei, left, makes a swipe at a ball held by Sam Mills III, right, during practice on Monday. Lotulelei later left practice with what head coach Ron Rivera described as soreness in his surgically repaired right foot.
Carolina Panthers Star Lotulelei, left, makes a swipe at a ball held by Sam Mills III, right, during practice on Monday. Lotulelei later left practice with what head coach Ron Rivera described as soreness in his surgically repaired right foot. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei left Monday’s practice in a cart with what the team called a “stress reaction” in his surgically repaired right foot.

In a statement released Monday evening, Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said the team plans to take a cautious approach and will re-evaluate Lotulelei “in a few weeks.”

With that timeline, Lotulelei’s availability for the exhibition season is in question.

Lotulelei, the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2013, came up limping after a play and motioned for the training staff. Panthers team doctor Robert Anderson, who performed Lotulelei’s surgery in January, recommended taking Lotulelei to the training room for further evaluation.

Lotulelei was still limping about an hour after practice, with a walking boot on his foot.

He said he wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury. When asked what the medical staff told him, Lotulelei said, “They didn’t tell me much.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera had hoped Lotulelei was dealing with soreness rather than re-injury.

Lotulelei broke his foot during a practice before the Panthers’ divisional round game at Seattle. He participated in OTAs and minicamp during the spring without any apparent setbacks.

Lotulelei’s injury left the Panthers without both of their young defensive tackles. Kawann Short, who has been sidelined with back spasms, is scheduled to be re-evaluated Tuesday in Charlotte during the team’s off day.

Rivera said an MRI on Short’s lower back revealed no damage.

The team re-signed veteran defensive tackles Dwan Edwards and Colin Cole during the offseason. The Panthers have used a four-man rotation at the position the last two seasons.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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