Panthers Notes: NFLPA Grievance, Horn, Fitterer

Field conditions have been a talking point for many teams around the league this year, including the Panthers. The latest issue arising from the turf at Bank of America Stadium has resulted in action being taken by the player’s association.

The NFLPA is filing a grievance against the NFL and the Panthers for the state of the field during Carolina’s Christmas Eve game against the Lions, as detailed by ESPN’s David Newton. That contest – which had the coldest temperature for a start time in franchise history – began with the field in a poor, hard condition for the first half of the game in particular.

The union wanted to have the start of the game delayed due to the conditions, according to Newton’s colleague Adam Schefter, though a league official said they did not raise the issue prior to kickoff. By halftime, the field was in a better condition, but Lions quarterback Jared Goff described the field as “below NFL-standard” after the game was over. Veteran Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson has been one of many Carolina players to voice concerns over the team’s artificial turf, which was installed in 2021.

Here are some other notes out of Charlotte:

  • Cornerback Jaycee Horn was thought to be done for the season in the wake of his wrist injury suffered in Week 16. He quickly underwent surgery, though, opening the door to a late-season return. Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that the 2021 first-rounder could be able to suit up for Carolina’s regular season finale against the Saints – something which would be a welcomed sight given the Panthers’ struggles in the secondary during their loss to the Buccaneers yesterday. On the other hand, that result knocked the Panthers out of postseason contention, so the team should have little incentive to rush him back into action.
  • The firing of head coach Matt Rhule led many to believe that further organizational changes could be coming, but owner David Tepper quickly voiced his support of GM Scott Fitterer. The latter has been in place for less than two full seasons, as the team’s recent rebuilding efforts have not panned out. Fitterer began distancing himself from Rhule in 2021, per Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post, the season in which the former Baylor HC’s seat began to become increasingly hot. Stability with the team’s next head coach – either interim bench boss Steve Wilks or an outside hire – would likely help Fitterer’s job stability for the intermediate future.
  • Wilks continued his reshaping of the team’s coaching staff to close out the season last month, adding Ian Scott as a defensive line coach (Twitter link via Newton). The 41-year-old spent six years in the NFL as a player, including a brief spell with the Panthers in 2008. He began his college coaching career at Florida, later working with d-linemen at UCF and Central Michigan. This post will be his first at the pro level.
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