It was a tough loss for the Carolina Panthers in Week 12, having taken the rival New Orleans Saints to the brink on Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Superdome, only to lose a close one after a missed game-winning field goal attempt by Joey Slye. It was enough to nudge head coach Ron Rivera into holding tryouts at kicker, but they have a much more pressing issue that has arisen from their battle in Louisiana.
Dontari Poe, the team's All-Pro defensive lineman tasked with both rushing the passer and being clogging up lanes to prevent opposing halfbacks from finding their groove, will likely not return in 2019. The 29-year-old reportedly suffered a torn quad in the loss to the Saints on Sunday, and is set to undergo surgery to repair it on Tuesday -- per Josina Anderson of ESPN. Given the Panthers have only five regular season games remaining, the safe bet is Poe will be moved to injured reserve, ending his season.
Poe underwent additional tests on Monday before making his decision.
The absence of Poe will be a huge blow to the Panthers' defensive front. Despite being an interior lineman, his four sacks on the year are tied for fourth-most on the team, and his presence isn't easily replaced at the nose tackle position. Poe signed with the Panthers in 2018 on a three-year deal after spending one season with the rival Atlanta Falcons, and the 2019 season has by far been a level up over his inaugural performance in Charlotte -- also solid but not nearly as impressive.
He's been active for every game since joining the Panthers last season, but that streak has now come to an end, and the Panthers have yet another issue to figure out as they scratch and claw for a shot at a wild card berth.