CHARLOTTE — Although he’s still listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Dallas, Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams practiced for the first time in nearly three weeks Wednesday.
Williams, the Panthers’ first-round pick from Memphis, has been out since the Oct. 8 game against Cleveland with a high right ankle sprain. He spent two weeks in a cast and returned to practice with it heavily taped.
He took part in at least a portion of each team segment, per the league’s guidelines for the official report.
There’s still no certainty he’ll play this week, and coach John Fox said a key would be how he responds the next few days.“He’ll be day-to-day, and we’ll see how he feels toward the end of the week,” Fox said.
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The Panthers’ rushing game has dipped in his absence, failing to reach the 100-yard plateau either of the last two weeks after hitting it for five straight. Starter DeShaun Foster remains 10th in the league in rushing (490 yards on 128 carries), but the team has lacked the pop Williams provided.
He had 26 carries for 139 yards at the time of his injury for a 5.3-yard per carry average. He also had five rushes of 10 yards or more. Foster has 13 such runs this year.
n GAMBLERS BEWARE: With Dallas changing quarterbacks, the line on Sunday’s game rose from 3 1/2 points to 5 1/2 in favor of the Panthers.That’s not necessarily a good sign, as the Panthers are developing a reputation among those who wager as one of the league’s worst home favorites.According to handicapper Greg Roberts of National Consensus Inc. (consensus900.com), the Panthers are 5-11-1 against the spread as a home favorite over their last 17 games.
When the point spread is between 4 and 7 points and they’re playing at home, the trend’s even stronger. They’re 2-10 against the spread in those games in their last 12 opportunities.
Roberts said most NFL teams cover at home about half the time, but said the Panthers have impressed him as a road underdog, covering 19 of their last 22 times in that situation.
“They’re easy to bet on,” Roberts said. “Just as long as stay away from them when they’re at home.”
n INJURY UPDATE: For the first time in recent memory, all 53 members of the active roster practiced.
Williams and linebacker Thomas Davis (ribs) are listed as questionable, and safety Mike Minter (knee), cornerback Ken Lucas (hip) and linebacker Adam Seward (thigh) are probable.
n EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers worked out six cornerbacks Tuesday, an indication they needed to take a closer look at what was out there since they were caught short last week. They promoted Christian Morton from their practice squad (although San Francisco was reportedly interested in bringing him in) to take the place of Reggie Howard, who left the team for personal reasons.
The list of players that worked out was headlined by former New York Jets third-round pick Derrick Strait, who was recently cut by Tampa Bay. They also worked out former Green Bay starter Joey Thomas and four other players: Dion Byrum, Eric Hill, Jason Horton and Tramon Williams.
Byrum, from nearby Monroe, N.C., had been on the Tampa Bay practice squad, and they re-signed him among a series of moves. The Bucs also signed former Panthers defensive end Jovan Haye off the Cleveland practice squad. ... The Panthers rounded out their own practice squad by adding 6-foot-6, 278-pound tight end Robert Johnson, who has been to camp with Washington, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.