Carolina Panthers have suffered a huge injury blow ahead of their crucial NFL playoff battle this weekend against the World Champion Seattle Seahawks.
The Panthers defense has impressed in the last five weeks, leading to five key wins for NFC South champions, but news out of Carolina this week has revealed that Star Lotulelei will miss the Divisional Round match-up after the stud defensive lineman picked up a foot injury.
Head coach Ron Rivera explained on Wednesday that Lotulelei has undergone surgery on a broken bone in his foot, an injury which he suffered in the Panthers' impressive win against Arizona Cardinals on Wildcard weekend.
Overcoming the big blow
The injury will put pressure on the Panthers' D-line, with Colin Cole likely to start in place of Lotulelei. But despite the injury, star tackle Kawann Scott is not letting the blow get him or his teammates down ahead of a huge playoff match in Seattle.
"It's crazy, but we can't dwell on it," said Short regarding Lotulelei's injury.
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Regardless of whether or not the loss of Lotulelei affects the Panthers mentally going into what will be an epic trench battle in Seattle, it will certainly affect them on the field come Sunday.
Panthers will struggle in Seattle
Lotulelei has started 13 games this season and he was huge part of the Panthers' defense that won four straight regular season games to end the season and clinch the NFC South, albeit with a losing record.
But despite that losing record, the Panthers comfortably beat the Arizona Cardinals last week 27-16, with Carolina holding the Cardinals to a playoff record low of 78 yards offense.
Lotulelei was key to that performance and without him they will struggle to control the Seahawks' offensive line and dominant run game. Make sure you watch this space.