Panthers release Avant, place Chandler on IR
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers are getting even younger at wide receiver.
Coach Ron Rivera announced Tuesday the Panthers have released veteran wide receiver Jason Avant and placed starting right tackle Nate Chandler on injured reserve with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
The team has signed wide receiver De’Andre Presley from the practice squad and activated fullback Mike Tolbert from the injured reserve/designated to return list to fill those roster spots.
Avant was Carolina’s third receiver this season and caught 21 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown. Avant struggled at times getting separation from defensive backs.
Rivera said the release of Avant was made to give undrafted rookie Philly Brown to get more playing time.
Brown caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in Carolina’s 19-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday and has 12 catches for 190 yards on the season. He has also returned a punt for a touchdown.
The move means two of Carolina’s top three wide receivers are rookies. Kelvin Benhamin leads the Panthers with 768 yards receiving on 52 catches and has eight touchdowns.
”This had nothing to do with what (Avant) did or didn’t do, this has everything to do with what we see in Philly and the potential he has,” Rivera said. ”When you have veteran guys who play a lot in front of younger guys that have potential, sometimes you stunt their growth. This was something we needed to do to give Philly an opportunity to be on the field more.”
Rivera said Brown gives the Panthers a needed vertical threat in the passing game, something they’ve lacked since Ted Ginn Jr. signed as a free agent this offseason with the Arizona Cardinals.
Rivera said the move was not a reaction to comments Avant made to reporters after the team’s fifth straight loss on Sunday in which he questioned the team’s play calling at the end of the game.
”This has nothing to do with it, and that has to stop right here,” Rivera said.
Avant signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Panthers in the offseason after spending his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chandler started all 11 games at right tackle this season for Carolina after being converted from defensive tackle two years ago. Rivera said Chandler had an MRI on his knee on Monday that revealed the tear.
Rivera said the Panthers will consider Amini Silatolu, Mike Remmers, Chris Scott and David Foucault as potential replacements at right tackle.
The Panthers (3-7-1) have a bye this week before playing the Vikings in Minnesota on Nov. 30.
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