After absorbing the loss of rookie defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain well Sunday, the Panthers found out Tuesday they'll have to work without the pair of third-round picks for the rest of the season.
Fua and McClain were put on injured reserve, out for the year with the injuries that forced the Panthers to go without their starting defensive tackles in the 38-19 win over Tampa Bay.
Fua strained his right hamstring in pre-game warmups while McClain sustained a sprained left knee in the second half.
Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse replaced them against the Buccaneers, earning praise for their play.
"As a group, the defensive line played well. They played physical," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said after Sunday's game. "To have what happened to us -- with Sione going down before the game and Terrell during the game -- I thought they fought through that adverse situation. Frank and Andre stood up and did a nice job, and it's always nice to see young guys do that."
They will now have to continue to do that. The Panthers also signed free agent defensive end Ogemdi Nwagbuo and defensive end Demario Pressley joined the practice squad as the Panthers tried to stockpile defensive linemen.
Nwagbuo was waived Nov. 1 by the San Diego Chargers, where current Panthers coach Ron Rivera had him for three seasons.
Despite the losses of Fua and McClain on Sunday, the Panthers held LeGarrette Blount to 19 yards rushing.
Carolina also rotated defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy inside to make up for the losses.
"Charles (Johnson) and Greg (Hardy) move well inside as well as any players in the league, I believe, and we moved Antwan (Applewhite) in there a little bit, and he helped out," McDermott said after the game Sunday. "It was a good team effort up front."
Blount had come in with back-to-back 100-yard games.
"We've all seen him on TV hurdling defensive backs, so that's a step in the right direction for our defense in the run game," McDermott said. "You see improvement against the run game and improvement with assignments. That's just a part of the process as a first-year staff putting a system in place.
"It's new for the players as well, and they're starting to understand how we want to play, how we want to do things. The pace of play is picking up as the learning curve flattens out."
How the Panthers handle the run and the extended absences of Fua and McClain will be critical moving forward. Over the next two weeks they will face running backs Michael Turner and Arian Foster.