Offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges returned to the Carolina Panthers on Monday following a two-week suspension imposed by the team, and while coach John Fox would not discuss his playing status, there is a chance that the fifth-year veteran could quickly return to the lineup.
"We'll evaluate him at practice," Fox said. "We'll wait and see."
But a subpar performance by rookie right guard Ryan Kalil in Sunday's loss to Houston could hasten Bridges' return.
A second-round draft pick who was a standout center at Southern California, Kalil struggled on Sunday, surrendering two sacks, both on third-down plays. His play was definitely a step back from his performance in the season-opening victory against St. Louis.
Bridges, 27, was the projected starter at right guard in training camp. If the Panthers feel his conditioning is good, he could move back into the lineup and help solidify the blocking unit.
The Panthers suspended Bridges for the first two games of the season after a woman who works at a strip club accused him of pointing a gun at her in the parking lot of the club. He was released on $3,000 bond on a misdemeanor assault charge. It is not known if Bridges, who forfeited $82,352 of his base salary of $700,000 for 2007, will face league disciplinary action.
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to suspend players up to four games for conduct detrimental to the team.
Carolina signed Bridges in September 2006 after the team was decimated by injuries on the offensive line, losing two starters in the season opener, and he ended up starting 14 games at right tackle. His more natural position is guard, where he played for two seasons in Arizona, and he practiced largely at the interior spot in training camp.
The former Southern Mississippi standout has played in 35 games for his career and has started in 25 of them. The 326-pound Bridges is noted as a strong run blocker.
In an unrelated roster move, the Panthers on Monday placed reserve defensive back Dante Wesley on injured reserve for the season after he suffered a broken collarbone Sunday. The team re-signed cornerback Curtis Deloatch, who had been in camp with the Panthers but was released in the final roster cutdown, to replace him.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com