CHARLOTTE -- Now that they're eliminated from postseason eligibility, and he won't be able to come back and play in the Super Bowl, the Panthers decided to place defensive end Julius Peppers on injured reserve, officially ending the worst season of his pro career.
Peppers didn't play last week after spraining his right MCL two weeks ago against Seattle. He would have been out a month or more, so the Panthers decided to go ahead and list him on IR so they could pick up other players.
He finished the year with three sacks, the lowest total of his six years in Charlotte by far.
There's a chance by being out this week, he could also give back the club's all-time sack record. He has 56.0, and Mike Rucker's second at 55.5, entering what could be his final game.
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Typically with MCL injuries, surgery isn't an immediate consideration, as the ligament can heal with time. If it becomes clear in the next few months that's not happening, surgery would be an option.
The Panthers also put center Justin Hartwig on injured reserve earlier this week with the same injury as Peppers.
Charles Johnson will likely start again for Peppers, while rookie Ryan Kalil will replace Hartwig.
• THE NEW GUYS: To fill the two open spots on the 53-man roster, they claimed kicker Rhys Lloyd off waivers from Baltimore, and signed former first-round wide receiver Travis Taylor.
The 25-year-old Lloyd, a native of Dover, England, has bounced between the Ravens' active roster and practice squad this year.
He has a powerful leg that will make them consider keeping him next year as a kickoff specialist, since that's an area veteran John Kasay has struggled in this year. Kasay has a league-high five gone out of bounds (punter Jason Baker added another) and a league-low two touchbacks, making the team consider keeping an extra kicker in the future just for kickoff duty.
Lloyd's contract is just for the week, but since he's a rookie, he'll be an exclusive rights free agent who can't negotiate with other teams. That way, if the Panthers decide to bring him back to camp next year, they'd hold his rights.
Taylor, 29, was the 10th overall pick in the 2000 draft, but like many former Florida wide receivers, has failed to live up to expectations in the pros. Known for his speed during his time with the Gators, he's averaged an ordinary 12.9 yards per reception since leaving.
He played five underwhelming seasons with Baltimore, then two with Minnesota. He went to camp with Oakland this year, was cut and had one week and one catch with St. Louis.
He posted his best season in 2002, catching 61 passes for 869 yards and six touchdowns. Other than that, his career has been just OK, combining for 107 catches, 1,254 yards and seven scores in his two years with the Vikings.
They signed Taylor through 2008, meaning he'll go into what figures to be a crowded camp of guys competing for jobs next year.
They have Steve Smith and rookies Ryne Robinson and Dwayne Jarrett coming back, along with recent practice-squad call-up Jason Carter. More veterans are doubtless on the way.
Drew Carter and Keary Colbert are unrestricted free agents at year's end, and it's easy to imagine neither coming back.
• EXTRA POINTS: Three players were held out of Wednesday's practice: right tackle Jordan Gross (ankle), safety Chris Harris (neck) and quarterback Vinny Testaverde (age). ... Maybe things are just more efficient, or maybe it was just cold. Either way, practice was at least 20 minutes shorter than a normal Wednesday. ... Former practice squad cornerback Tanard Davis was signed by Philadelphia. The Panthers also filled the two spots open on their practice squad by adding safeties Patrick Ghee and Eddie Canonico.