Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young is dealing with an ankle injury and is unlikely to play in Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Young missed his second straight day of practice Thursday, and the winless Panthers released a statement on social media saying he isn't expected to play.

The top pick of this year's draft evidently injured his ankle during Carolina's 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, but coach Frank Reich wasn't sure when. Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said the injury occurred in the first half, but Young never came out and didn't tell anyone until after the game.

With Young expected to sit, Andy Dalton will make his first start with the Panthers after starting 14 games for the Saints last season.

Young has started each of Carolina's first two losses and is experiencing the growing pains that come with being a rookie quarterback.

He ranks 31st in QB rating (66.6) while throwing for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's completing 59.2 per cent of his passes and his average of 4.21 yards per attempt is the worst in the NFL among starting quarterbacks.

Without a viable passing game, the Panthers are 28th in total offence and are tied for last in scoring.

Dalton, a 13-year-veteran, is 83-77-2 as a starter with 244 TD passes and 144 interceptions. Carolina will be the fifth franchise he starts a game for following one-year stints with Dallas, Chicago and New Orleans from 2020-22 after spending his first nine pro seasons with Cincinnati.

Bryce Young was the heavy favourite to go first overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, and there were no surprises as the Carolina Panthers selected the Alabama quarterback with the opening pick.

The Panthers traded up from the ninth pick in a deal with the Chicago Bears last month to have their choice of the top four quarterbacks in the class.

In recent weeks it became apparent Young had emerged as the frontrunner, and he will now be tasked with elevating a talented Panthers team back to playoff contention.

The Panthers have not had a winning season since the 2017 campaign.

Young experienced little other than winning during his time with Alabama, going 23-4 in two seasons as a starter with the Crimson Tide.

He finished his collegiate career with 8,356 passing yards, 80 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Young thrived primarily because of his ability to navigate often chaotic pockets with consummate ease, also showing the ability to create throwing windows by moving defenders with his eyes.

A tremendous off-schedule playmaker, Young can make dynamic plays as a runner and throwing on the move, yet his improvisational playing style will have been a concern to some teams given he is undersized at 5ft 10in and 204 pounds.

Young's size arguably makes him a substantially increased injury risk, but the Panthers are betting on him to stay healthy and turn them into perennial contenders in the NFC South.

Former NFL defensive lineman Chris Smith has died aged 31.

Smith was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of Arkansas in the 2014 draft and spent eight years in the league, representing teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.

He last played in the NFL for the Houston Texans in 2021 before signing for the Seattle Sea Dragons in the XFL in March of this year.

Smith's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed his death on Twitter, saying: "Rest in Peace Chris. Condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. We will miss you."

Smith's cause of death has not been released.

Several former teammates paid tribute, with Browns tight-end David Njoku declaring on Twitter: "Rest in paradise Chris Smith.

"Hometown hero and a brother to everyone. Such a kind soul. This is heartbreaking."

Smith also played for the Las Vegas Raiders and their former quarterback Derek Carr posted a photo of the two together and wrote: "Love you bro."

The Carolina Panthers are taking their time to evaluate their options after trading up for the NFL Draft's number one pick but new head coach Frank Reich says height will not play a major role.

Reich was officially unveiled by the Panthers on Monday having been appointed in late January, after Matt Ruhle was fired five games into the 2022 season which ended with a 7-10 campaign.

The Panthers since traded up for the number one pick, giving up several picks including their first and second-rounders in this year's draft along with wide receiver D.J. Moore as they look to access the best available quarterback to help resolve their offensive issues.

Alabama's Bryce Young is viewed as the best quarterback prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, along with Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Florida's Anthony Richardson and Kentucky's Will Levis.

But Young's height, at 5-foot-10, is seen as his biggest drawback and Reich has a history with taller quarterbacks.

"Don't read anything into it,'' Reich told reporters. "I'm just saying that because all these people are putting this label on me that I only look at big quarterbacks.

"We're, first and foremost, just looking for playmakers. You look at everything. Every trait that a guy has, and you weigh it. Right? You weigh it.

"The thing is – if there’s 10 categories that you look at in a quarterback, or any player for that matter, the real question is not how to evaluate each of those categories. A big part of the question is how much are you going to weigh each of those categories.

"So, everything’s a factor. But, ultimately, it really comes down to being a playmaker. Being a guy who can make plays all over the field and that happens a lot of different ways."

When asked about which categories he viewed most importantly, Reich laughed: "That'd be like giving the proprietary formula for Kentucky Fried Chicken."

Reich added that the evaluation process was ongoing, with the Panthers having nothing to hide given their position in the draft, scheduled for April 27.

"When you have the number one pick you don't have to play games, right?" Reich said. "It's not like we're trying to fool anybody. What we're trying to do is take all the time we can on the evaluation.

"There's a lot of conviction, as [general manager] Scott [Fitterer] said, on some of these top quarterbacks. The old adage, 'don't make a decision before you have to' – we're going to take every second every day, or every hour every day, to make this decision. And we've still got plenty of time left."

Reich hailed Fitterer for trading up to get the top pick, stating their previous first pick at nine was a "hard spot" given their resolution to solve their QB issues of the past few years.

"Is there more pressure with that? I guess so," Reich said. "But I don't feel it like that. I feel more freedom. We can actually get the guy that we want. We can take the time. We're in the driver's seat."

The Carolina Panthers have signed Adam Thielen to a three-year deal as they look to prepare a strong offense for their expected number one pick quarterback.

Thielen spent 10 years with his hometown team, the Minnesota Vikings, before being released in early March.

The 32-year-old was voted to two Pro Bowls in his time with Minnesota and was an All-Pro Second Team selection in 2017.

Starting all 17 games last season, Thielen finished with 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns, though he was not used as often towards the end of the campaign, making just seven catches in the Vikings' final four games.

He had previously expressed a desire to play his entire career with the Vikings, but their offense has shifted towards younger players like T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn to support All-Pro Justin Jefferson.

Overall, Thielen recorded 534 catches for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns in 135 appearances for Minnesota.

The Panthers will get the number one pick in the NFL Draft after trading wide receiver D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears, with Thielen providing plenty of experience in his place, which should aid whichever young starting quarterback they presumably acquire in late April.

It continues a busy time for Carolina, who have also recently added running back Miles Sanders, tight end Hayden Hurst and backup quarterback Andy Dalton.

The Carolina Panthers have agreed terms to bring in former Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders as they continue to reshape their offense in the offseason.

Sanders was a second-round pick for the Eagles in 2019, and he will head to Carolina after enjoying the best season of his career as Philadelphia were beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LVII.

The 25-year-old ran for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final year with Philadelphia, while he had 3,708 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in the last four seasons.

Reports from ESPN said Sanders' deal with the Panthers will run for four years, with the team looking to end a stretch of five consecutive campaigns without making the postseason.

Sanders' arrival continues a busy few days for Carolina, who agreed to send DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears as part of a blockbuster trade last week, receiving the number one overall pick in April's draft in exchange.

That trade has put the Panthers in position to take a leading quarterback after Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker all failed to impress as the team's starter last year.

Carolina have also agreed three-year contract with center Bradley Bozeman, along with deals for tight end Hayden Hurst and backup quarterback Andy Dalton.

The Carolina Panthers are set to draft their quarterback of the future next month, and they have identified the veteran who will serve as the placeholder for the number one overall pick.

Carolina agreed to a one-year, $10million deal with Andy Dalton, according to multiple reports.

While it remains to be seen whom the Panthers will select after trading up to the first overall pick, Dalton gives them an experienced and reliable signal-caller who can hold the fort if the quarterback they take is not ready to start as a rookie.

Dalton spent last season with the New Orleans Saints and was quietly impressive in a campaign that saw him start 14 games.

He completed 66.7 per cent of his passes for 2,871 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 

Those numbers do not reflect the accuracy he demonstrated. He delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 86.5 per cent of his passes, according to Stats Perform data, the second-best ratio among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

The keys to the Panthers' offense will at some point be handed to one of C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis. Dalton provides Carolina a quarterback who can either keep the seat warm or serve as a high-floor backup if the new face of the franchise quickly ascends to the starting job.

The Carolina Panthers have agreed a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears to put them in position to take a leading quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

It had already been reported the Bears would be open to offers for the number one pick.

And ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Friday an agreement had been reached with the Panthers.

In return, the Bears are set to receive two first-round picks – number nine this year and a first-round selection next year – along with this year's 61st pick, a further second-round pick in 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore.

The Bears look to already have their QB of the future in Justin Fields but will now have the opportunity to build around him.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will likely look at either Bryce Young of Alabama or C.J. Stroud of Ohio State.

Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker each had opportunities as the Panthers' starter in 2022, yet none of the trio impressed.

Whoever Carolina take with the first pick will head into their rookie season without the team's top target from last year as Moore instead links up with Fields.

Moore led the team in receptions (63), receiving yards (888) and receiving touchdowns (seven). No Bears receiver topped any of those marks.

Those seven TDs were a career high, although Moore had topped 1,100 receiving yards in each of the previous three seasons.

Carolina Panthers founder Jerry Richardson has died aged 86.

Richardson brought the Panthers to Carolina and the NFL in 1995, reaching Super Bowls in the 2003 and 2015 campaigns.

He left the franchise in 2018 after allegations of sexual and racial workplace misconduct.

Panthers owners David and Nicole Tepper paid tribute to Richardson after his death was announced on Thursday, saying: "Jerry Richardson's contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic.

"With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans here a team to call their own.

"He was incredibly gracious to me [David Tepper] when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful.''

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also saluted Richardson, saying in a statement: "The NFL community is deeply saddened by the passing of Jerry Richardson.

"The Carolina Panthers are a testament to his extraordinary and tireless dedication to the community. But his league-first attitude as seen through his leadership of numerous NFL committees... helped pave the way for a series of public-private stadium partnerships throughout the country, and collective bargaining agreements that continue to support the growth of the game.

"As a former player himself, Jerry cared deeply about the welfare of players and the labour agreements he helped negotiate have led to improved pay and benefits for generations of players. From a personal perspective, he was a wise and caring advisor to me, his fellow owners, and many Panthers players and coaches over the years."

New Panthers head coach Frank Reich was the franchise's first quarterback under Richardson, and said: "I will always be thankful to Mr Richardson for the Panthers. Being a part of the inaugural [season] is something that I will never forget.

"It was truly a special experience to play a part in the culmination of his efforts to bring football to the Carolinas."

Steve Wilks will be hired as the San Francisco 49ers' new defensive coordinator.

The move was reported by ESPN and NFL Network on Tuesday as the 49ers moved quickly to replace DeMeco Ryans.

With Ryans as DC, the 49ers fell painfully short of this year's Super Bowl following a remarkable run of misfortune that saw the team robbed of four quarterbacks through injury by the end of the NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Ryans' impressive work saw him land the Houston Texans' head coaching job, leaving the 49ers with a hole to plug on Kyle Shanahan's staff.

Shanahan is turning to Wilks, who was available after the Carolina Panthers hired Frank Reich as their new head coach.

Wilks had been the Panthers' interim coach last year, taking over after Matt Rhule was fired and finishing the season with a respectable 6-6 record.

Rhule's final game as coach, with Wilks his defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach, was a defeat to the 49ers.

Wilks described himself as "disappointed but not defeated" when the Panthers instead hired Reich for the 2023 season.

But if Wilks has ambitions of landing another top job, his new role with the 49ers looks a good fit.

Ryans' predecessor Robert Saleh also departed for a head coaching role with the New York Jets.

Before his 12 games at the helm of the Panthers, Wilks had a single season as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, when they were a miserable 3-13 in the 49ers' NFC West.

The Carolina Panthers are hiring Ejiro Evero as their new defensive coordinator following his exit from the Denver Broncos.

Earlier on Sunday, Evero was released from his post with the Broncos following Sean Payton's arrival as the franchise's head coach.

The 42-year-old has swiftly found his feet elsewhere, with Carolina confirming his appointment – where he previously interviewed for the head coaching job.

A Super Bowl winner as secondary and passing game coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams last year, Evero has impressed despite the Broncos' disappointing campaign in 2022.

The Broncos ranked seventh in the league for total defense and 14th in points allowed, an impressive feat for a franchise that finished the year with a 5-12 record.

Evero was heavily linked with a move to the Minnesota Vikings, who are also on the hunt for a defensive coordinator ahead of the 2023 season.

Steve Wilks was left "disappointed but not defeated" after the Carolina Panthers appointed Frank Reich as head coach.

Wilks missed out on landing the job on a permanent basis after guiding the team to a 6-6 record following Matt Rhule's firing in October.

Reich was installed on Thursday, but Wilks took the blow of being overlooked on the chin.

"The sun rose this morning and by the grace of God so did I," Wilks tweeted on Friday. "I'm disappointed but not defeated.

"Many people aren't built for this but I know what it means to persevere and see it through.

"It was an honour for me to coach those men in the Carolina Panthers locker room as the interim head coach.

"I do wish Frank Reich all the best. I will always be a fan of the Carolina Panthers Football Team."

Wilks took over after the Panthers fired Rhule following a 1-4 start to the season.

He was Carolina's defensive pass game coordinator and secondary coach at the time.

Wilks went 3-13 in 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals in his only previous head coaching experience in the NFL.

The Carolina Panthers have reached an agreement with Frank Reich to take over as their new head coach.

Reich, a former Panthers quarterback who started the first three games of the franchise’s inaugural season in 1995, spent four seasons as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts before being fired nine games into the 2022 campaign.

The 61-year-old becomes the sixth permanent head coach in Panthers history and the first with an offensive background, a likely selling point for an organisation that has been marred by instability at quarterback since it last reached the playoffs in 2017.

Reich compiled a 40-33 regular-season record with Indianapolis and reached the playoffs in 2018 and 2020.

The Colts finished 9-8 in 2021 but failed to make the postseason after a stunning loss to a 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars team in the finale, and got off to a 3-5-1 start this season when Reich was dismissed on November 7.

Prior to taking over the Colts, Reich served as the offensive coordinator during the Philadelphia Eagles' 2017 championship season and was instrumental in the development of quarterback Carson Wentz, who finished third in MVP voting after throwing for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns in his second NFL campaign.

The Panthers own the number nine pick in this year's draft and are expected to strongly consider taking a young quarterback after finishing 27th in the NFL in passer rating while starting three players (Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold) at the position.

Mayfield was ultimately released in December and Darnold is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Reich fills a void created when Matt Ruhle was fired five games into the season after going 11-27 in two-plus years.

Interim coach Steve Wilks, who went 6-6 after Ruhle's ousting to move Carolina within one game of NFC South champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reportedly was a finalist for the permanent job before team owner David Tepper decided on Reich.

According to, Wilks is expected to pursue other opportunities and will not remain on staff.

The Panthers are the first of five teams that let go of head coaches during or after the 2022 season to name a replacement. The Colts, the Arizona Cardinals, the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans are still looking to fill vacancies. 

The New England Patriots are aiming to fend off the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers by extending inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo's contract.

While Cleveland are looking for a new defensive coordinator after firing Joe Woods, while the Panthers want a new head coach.

There appears little appetite from the Patriots' side to let linebackers coach Mayo leave, however, with a team statement confirming talks on a contract extension were under way.

"The Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick have begun contract extension discussions with Jerod Mayo that would keep him with the team long-term," read a statement released to the media.

Mayo has spent his entire senior career with the Patriots since he was drafted by New England in the 2008 draft.

He retired in 2016 after three successive seasons derailed by injury, but joined the coaching staff in 2019.

New England also confirmed they are on the search for an offensive coordinator after a disappointing campaign saw them miss out on the playoffs.

Tom Brady believes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a knack for making life tough for themselves after coming from behind to beat the Carolina Panthers and claim the NFC South division on Sunday.

A 20-point fourth-quarter performance at Raymond James Stadium saw the Florida outfit storm home to take a 30-24 win, improving to 8-8 for the season.

It is a second straight division title for the Buccaneers, who will have the chance to finish the season with a winning record when they face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 18.

Brady, who threw for 432 yards and delivered three long touchdowns to Mike Evans, saw his side dig themselves out for the second week in a row, leaving him to ponder if they bring their struggles upon themselves.

"NFL games are tough to win, and we always figure out a way to keep them somehow exciting," he said afterwards. "I wish they wouldn't be as exciting as we made them.

"We've battled through a lot of tough things this year [but we are] happy to win the division. It's always tough to do it."

Head coach Todd Bowles concurred his team like to make things difficult, but acknowledged their success proved to be the ultimate prize, regardless of how they claimed it.

"Every year, you try to win the division, and we won the division," he added. "It doesn't matter how you win the division. My heart ain't got much left in it, but it feels great.

"We're in one spot we need to be. We can't get where we want to be unless we win the division. We won the division."

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