Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander tore his Achilles during the team’s game against Miami on Saturday, David Newton of ESPN reports (Twitter link). Alexander will miss the 2015 campaign, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, joining wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin as the second Panther to suffer a season-ending injury over the last week.
This news comes as Alexander was trying to bounce back from a 2014 season that saw him miss 15 games – 14 on account of two separate substance-abuse suspensions. Alexander’s second suspension last year was for 10 games, which suggested it was his fifth violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
With last year behind him, the Panthers were hoping Alexander – a 2012 fourth-round pick who has just 3.5 career sacks in 29 games – would earn a roster spot this summer and ultimately help make up for the departure of Greg Hardy.
“Frank’s doing a nice job,” head coach Ron Rivera said in May, Newton wrote . “He’s showing that he’s hungry. He’s got a lot to prove personally. He feels that way and [is] working that way. This is his make-or-break season.”
Alexander’s absence will create opportunities, Rivera told Newton (Twitter link). Rivera pointed to Wes Horton and Kony Ealy as possible replacements.