Panthers’ Chase Blackburn returns to practice, questionable for Sunday

11/9/13 in NFL   |   BrianMaddock   |   1429 respect

FanIQ | Sports Rumors, Gossip, Blogs, News & Discussion ForumsDespite lingering foot issues, Chase Blackburn has played in all eight games this season, and the Carolina Panthers are hopeful they’ll once again have their starting weakside linebacker in action for Week 10.
Blackburn returned to participate in individual practice on Friday, after sitting out the last two days’ session due to foot injury. He almost followed the same pattern in Week 9 as well, missing practices and being slowed down by the foot injury before playing against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday. Blackburn played 18-of-50 defensive snaps coming out in passing situations against the Falcons.
So, Panthers coach Ron Rivera is optimistic that Blackburn will ready to go with the team travelling to San Francisco for Sunday’s game.
"It's almost the same exact set of circumstances, plus they got some new orthotics for his foot that he said felt pretty good," Rivera said Friday. "Chase practiced some today, moved around pretty good."
Officially, the Panthers listed Blackburn as questionable on Friday’s injury report. But Rivera expects Blackburn to be a game-time decision for Sunday’s game against their NFC rivals. Playing without Blackburn could put the Panthers at a huge disadvantage when they go up against the top rushing offense in the NFL on Sunday, since the nine-year veteran serves a key role in Carolina’s No. 1 ranked rush defense.
If Blackburn is unable to go Sunday, rookie linebacker A.J. Klein will benefit by receiving increased snaps against the 49ers. Rivera said he was excited about the progress shown of late by Klein, especially after he got some significant experience in the fourth quarter against the Falcons last week.
 “You want that big body in there, but A.J.’s had a really good week, so I’m excited for A.J.,” Rivera noted. “And A.J. played well when he got in in the fourth quarter against Atlanta. He went in and made some plays.”
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