CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers lost a captain Wednesday, when running back Nick Goings was placed on injured reserve as a result of his latest concussion.
Goings has missed the last two games after being knocked out returning a kickoff against Tampa Bay. It was the third such head injury of his career, and all three have been major. He missed a week after his first, in 2003, and then was hospitalized in Seattle after his second in the 2005 NFC Championship game.
The Panthers special teams captain said last week he hoped to play against Indianapolis on Sunday, and had even started working out on the side during the bye week practices. He also said that trainers cut those workouts short to get him out of the heat and the bright sunlight, a sign things might not have been progressing as he had hoped. He said for the first 10 days after the Tampa game, he was basically confined to his darkened bedroom.
"Yeah, it honestly is kind of scary," Goings said last week. "I felt really bad for a good week and a half or so. And that alone is scary, not being able to control your own body."
He said he had several conversations with teammate Dan Morgan (whose 2006 season was ended after his fifth concussion), and had even been fitted for a helmet just like Morgan's, with more protective padding in the crown, and wider panels along the jaw-line.
"It's definitely in my mind," Goings said of Morgan's problems and the long-term effects. "It's something I want to make sure is all the way healed before I play again. I'm looking at my whole life, and not just football. (My family), they're on me about making sure I'm wearing the right helmet, mouthpiece, all that stuff.
"I just know it's part of the game. That's why I'm taking care of myself now, trying to take the steps to make sure I get better."
Team officials said Wednesday Goings was still several weeks from coming back, and with their shortage at linebacker, they felt they needed to add there, signing Donte Curry, who was cut by Detroit last week.
"It's tough, because he's one of those guys who fills so many roles for us," general manager Marty Hurney said of Goings. "He has a great attitude, and knows exactly what you want from him and does it, and that's why he's been so valuable to us."
Goings is the franchise's sixth all-time leading rusher (1,460), and he's 10th on the team's all-time special teams tackles list with 43.
The 29-year-old Curry began his career with Washington in 2001, and has been with the Lions ever since. They cut him prior to the season opener, then re-signed him later in September, before letting him go last week when they were short at cornerback.
A product of Morris Brown College, he's versatile enough to play all three linebacker spots, as well as all the special teams, where he was a Lions captain the previous two years.
• VINNY BOUNCING BACK: Quarterback Vinny Testaverde has said all the right things about his likely backup status this week, but he disputed that the reason for not playing him long-term was because he was more of an injury risk.
"Throughout the years when you're young and you have that energy and you're healthy, you still get injured," he said. "You still miss a game here or there. So I don't really look at the age factor thinking I'm going to miss a game here or there due to my age. I did catch some of the sports shows and they're talking about, 'How does Vinny feel? Is he sore today?'
"Really, I wasn't any more sore Monday than I was when I was 25 on a Monday. That's the God's honest truth -- and probably because the O-line played so good."
• INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers were without four players for practice Wednesday, as running back DeShaun Foster was the only new add to the group with a toe injury.
Also out were linebackers Morgan (Achilles), Adam Seward (calf) and Goings (before he was placed on IR). Morgan said last week he hoped to be back for the Indianapolis game, but being out this early's not a good sign for that.