Fourth-year veteran tight end Mike Seidman, who started in three of the first four games for the Carolina Panthers despite not having registered a reception since the final game of the 2004 campaign, will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Seidman, 25, was injured in the Panthers' victory at Tampa Bay on Sept. 24. He sat out last week's win over New Orleans, but the medical staff only discovered in recent days that the injury was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, coach John Fox said.
The Panthers have not yet placed Seidman on injured reserve and will explore all of their roster options before making a move.
There are still three tight ends -- Kris Mangum, Michael Gaines and Jeff King -- on the roster. Even though the Panthers employ a lot of multiple-tight end formations, there may be no urgency to find another player at the position because of the existing depth.
In far better news, starting center Justin Hartwig, who has not been on the field since the season opener because of a groin injury, practiced Wednesday, and might be able to return to the lineup Sunday at home against the Cleveland Browns.
One of the team's highest-profile offseason additions, Hartwig is a terrific in-line blocker, and his return would be a boon to the Carolina offense. Second-year veteran Geoff Hangartner has started the past three games at center. If Hartwig returns on Sunday, there is a chance that Hangartner will challenge fellow second-year veteran Evan Mathis, who has struggled in the first month of the season, for the starting job at right guard.
The Panthers have been forced to shuffle their offensive line because of Hartwig's absence and that of left tackle Travelle Wharton, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
A third-round selection in the 2003 draft, Seidman was supposed to provide the Panthers with a potent downfield receiving threat at the tight end position, but he has been largely a disappointment. The former UCLA star has just 18 career catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns in 43 appearances, including 15 starts. His best season came in 2004, when he had 13 receptions for 123 yards.
Seidman did not register a single catch in 12 appearances last season and three games this year.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.