The answer is maybe not that healthy. While veteran players like future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers and safety Mike Adams are simply getting some rest, starting safety Kurt Coleman and linebacker Shaq Thompson were held out of practice Wednesday. The team’s starting center Ryan Kalil, de facto #1 receiver Devin Funchess, potent defensive end Mario Addison, starting guard Trai Turner and even quarterback Cam Newton were all limited, too.
That’s a pretty typical injury report for this late in the season in many ways, but it does raise the question of just how many Panthers are going to play. Ron Rivera has said he intends to roll out all his starters and play to win, and I take him at his word. That said, if there’s no change in seeding possible for Carolina and the team realizes they might do more harm than good by playing some of these guys, maybe they’ll re-think that plan.
That’s a spot of unlikely wishful thinking, though. In all likelihood, the Panthers will roll out everyone except maybe Thompson, and will have a few guys playing at less than 100%. They’re vulnerable to being knocked off by a pretty healthy Falcons team playing at home even at full strength, but a surprise inactive or two would tip the odds even further in Atlanta’s favor.
It all comes down, ultimately, to how well the Falcons play. So monitor this injury report with us throughout the week, but know that essential truth, too.