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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers starting free safety Charles Godfrey will miss the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles, an injury he suffered in the third quarter of Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The Panthers also may be without starting strong safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) and left cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion), and backup left cornerback Josh Norman (sprained MCL, thigh bruise) when they host the New York Giants in Week 3 in a matchup of 0-2 teams.
The Panthers figure to face a tough test in Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown for 812 yards, one shy of the league-high 813 by Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. However, Manning also has thrown a league-high seven interceptions.
|Charles Godfrey is carted off the field Sunday after suffering a season-ending injury to his Achilles against Buffalo.|
Godfrey's injury is another setback for a Carolina unit that last season had the worst opponents' completion percentage (66.8) and has the second-worst this year (72.2).
"If we're starting two new defensive backs, the other nine [players on the field] have to step up," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, noting that Thomas is undergoing the league's mandatory testing for a concussion and could miss a game.
Rivera also said that Mikell was "touch and go."
Rivera called next Sunday's game one that both the Panthers and Giants must win.
"They're as desperate as we are," he said.
The loss of Godfrey was particularly big in that he had developed into a leader in a young secondary that already was considered the weak point of the defense.
"Since last year, when we moved him to free safety, he's played about as well as you'd like to have a free safety play," Rivera said. "You hate to see it happen to a guy like him who has really found his niche. I'd love to have him, but we don't."
Either D.J. Moore or Colin Jones likely will replace Godfrey.
Mike Mitchell, who has been battling a hamstring injury, would replace Mikell. If he is able to play, Norman would start at corner for Thomas.
Carolina's secondary will be asked to defend two of the league's top 10 wide receivers in yardage in New York's Victor Cruz (236 yards, 16 catches) and Hakeem Nicks (197 yards, nine catches).
On Sunday, Carolina saw Buffalo rookie quarterback EJ Manuel to engineer a game-winning 80-yard drive with no timeouts over the final 1:42. Thanks to a miscommunication on defense, Bills receiver Stevie Johnson was left open in the left corner of the end zone on the decisive 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left.
Rivera said Moore called for a switch that Norman either didn't hear or didn't execute.
"That's something we'll get to the bottom of," Rivera said.
Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said the injuries were so detrimental on Sunday that he couldn't use a nickel package for nearly a quarter. He said at one point there was talk of using linebacker Thomas Davis at safety.
McDermott also said he could use a combination of Mikell and Mitchell at free and strong safety against the Giants if Mikell's injury allows him to play.