Depending on how quickly Philly Brown can come back from his shoulder injury, the Carolina Panthers could have a need for speed again at wide receiver.
Brown, an undrafted rookie from Ohio State, has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers since they cut veteran Jason Avant during November to make room for Brown at the third receiver spot.
But Brown hurt his left shoulder diving for a pass in the end zone during the wild-card win against the Arizona Cardinals, and his status for Saturday’s divisional game at Seattle remains in doubt.
Brown caught passes on the side during Wednesday’s practice at Bank of America Stadium, and coach Ron Rivera said the next step will be determining whether Brown can block and “defend himself.”
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But Rivera said the Panthers have options to stretch the field against the Seahawks, beginning with Joe Webb, a veteran with a lot of slashes behind his name. Webb is the No. 3 quarterback/reserve receiver/special teams contributor who, in the latter role, ran down Atlanta’s Devin Hester on a 66-yard kickoff return to save a touchdown in Week 17.
“You guys got a chance to see his speed chasing Devin Hester,” Rivera said. “He’s got some of that vertical (speed) and we’ve worked him outside, taking a look at some of the things that he does.”
Webb played receiver last season with Minnesota, catching five passes for 33 yards. He only has one reception this season – a 16-yarder in a Monday night loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 10.
Rivera said the Panthers might consider activating Stephen Hill, who spent all season on the practice squad after being signed in September. Hill, who is 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, has good size and speed, but he has struggled with dropped passes – both with the Jets and on the Panthers’ taxi squad.
As for Brown, the Philadelphia native did not sound overly optimistic about his chances of playing this week.
“Every day I’m getting better. They haven’t said anything. Still a long way from Saturday, though, so we’ll see,” Brown said. “At the end of the day it’s going to be their decision. So who knows?”
Big, ol’ jet airliner: The Panthers practiced for the second day in a row with speakers blaring the sound of a jet taking off to try to get used to the crowd noise at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
Center Ryan Kalil said there’s something missing from the soundtrack, namely crowd noise.
“It never really sounds like how it does at a stadium, (where) there’s all the chants and things like that,” Kalil said. “But that’s been like that since college. Those things never sound exactly how they’re supposed to.”
Kalil was with the Panthers in 2010 during their last trip to Seattle. He said it’s loud at CenturyLink, but he has experienced louder venues.
“I still think the loudest place I’ve ever played in was in Minnesota when (Brett) Favre was on the team and it was roaring in that” Metrodome, Kalil said. New Orlean’s “Superdome gets pretty loud, too.”
Kalil said offensive linemen would use hand signals to communicate their line calls Saturday when Seattle’s “12th Man” fan base is making it hard to hear.
“The ‘12th Man’ is actually a little sexist,” Kalil joked. “If I’m a female Seahawks fan, I’m a little disappointed and upset. I think it should be the 12th Person.”
Injury update: Safety Thomas DeCoud made progress with his injured hamstring and practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday. Bothered by an ankle, cornerback Melvin White was limited as well.
Linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) was a full participant at practice and he’s expected to be active for Saturday’s game.