Panthers vs Steelers NFL Week 15 injury report: DJ Moore

The Carolina Panthers may be without two of their top receivers Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

D.J. Moore was a limited participant at Friday’s practice after being a full participant Wednesday and Thursday. Moore is battling an ankle injury he sustained against Seattle. The team considers Moore to be a game-time decision.

“One concern that was D.J. (Moore) was limited and still is questionable. We’ll check his status as we proceed and move forward,” Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said. “It’s not so much of a setback. It just really is trying to see whether or not he’s going to be able to sustain and be efficient.”

Moore did not catch a pass in the Panthers’ 30-24 win at Seattle. But he plays a critical role in the Panthers’ run game as an in-line blocker via short motion. Moore was injured while blocking on a run play.

Laviska Shenault is another pillar of the Panthers’ run-pass option scheme. His presence as a slot receiver running bubble screens threatens opposing linebackers and forces them to expand with him, which opens run lanes for running backs D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear.

Shenault is dealing with a shoulder injury and has been limited in practice all week. Moore and Shenault are both listed as questionable. If Sheanult is unable to play, Rashard Higgins could be active for the first time in weeks.

The team is hopeful safety Xavier Woods will return to the lineup after he was a surprise scratch last week. Woods is battling a knee injury. He practiced fully on Friday after consecutive limited outings.

Linebacker Brandon Smith is the only Panthers player already ruled out for Sunday. The rookie linebacker has an ankle injury that kept him out of practice all week. He played nine defensive snaps and 12 special teams snaps last week.

Linebackers Cory Littleton (ankle) and Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder) were full participants again, and are expected to play.

The Panthers are home favorites for the first time under Wilks. The Steelers will likely start Mason Rudolph or Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Rookie Kenny Pickett is listed as doubtful with a concussion.

Hailing from Minnesota, Ellis L. Williams joined the Observer in October 2021 to cover the Carolina Panthers. Prior, he spent two years reporting on the Browns for Plain Dealer. Having escaped cold winters, he’s thrilled to consume football, hoops, music and movies within the Queen City.

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