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Injury-riddled Panthers place RB Williams on IR with foot sprain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have scored a league-low nine touchdowns and average an NFL-worst 11.6 points a game.

And those ugly numbers were posted before the media relations staff had to switch to a tiny font to get all the players jammed onto Wednesday's injury report.

Just how bad are things getting for the woeful Panthers (1-8) in this lost season?

» It appears either a rookie sixth-round pick or a journeyman who was a full-time dad this time last week will start at quarterback Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens with Jimmy Clausen recovering from a concussion. Of course, the rookie Clausen was starting because Matt Moore (shoulder) was lost for the season last week.

» Tony Pike or Brian St. Pierre won't get to hand the ball off to DeAngelo Williams to ease the load. Carolina's top running back was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with a mid-foot sprain.

» No. 2 running back Jonathan Stewart (concussion) and third-stringer Tyrell Sutton (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday, either.

» The quarterbacks could be without two of the five projected starters on the offensive line going into the season. Left guard Travelle Wharton missed practice Wednesday with turf toe and right tackle Jeff Otah (knee) is lost for the season.

» Starting middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) missed practice on Wednesday. So did No. 3 receiver Brandon LaFell (concussion).

"We started off a little thin and we stayed healthy for some time," coach John Fox said. "Then, over the last couple weeks, the injury bug has bit us. It'll be a next-man-up approach."

It won't be Williams. After rushing for 2,632 yards over the past two seasons, Williams' miserable year ended with 361 yards and one touchdown after Fox said he was still two or three weeks away from returning.

"It was healing a little slower than originally expected," Fox said, "and we needed a roster spot."

That was to promote guard C.J. Davis to the 53-man roster from the practice squad because Carolina had only six healthy offensive linemen. If Wharton can't go, Mackenzy Bernadeau would likely start in his spot. Bernadeau was benched from his right guard spot earlier this season.

Williams, who wasn't in the locker room when reporters were allowed in Wednesday, may have played his final game for Carolina. His contract expires at the end of the season.

"He's a warrior and a competitor," Stewart said of Williams being finished for the season. "He's a guy who wants to compete, so it's definitely something he's frustrated by."

Stewart had little to say about his status as he recovers from a concussion that kept him out of Sunday's 31-16 loss to Tampa Bay. He's yet to pass the required cognitive tests, but said he ran some Wednesday.

"It can be 48 hours from now, a week or two weeks," Stewart said. "Who knows?"

Goodson, who had Carolina's first 100-yard rushing game last Sunday, would likely start again against the Ravens (6-3). And the Panthers may be looking to run a lot with so much uncertainty at quarterback.

Pike and St. Pierre said they split the reps in Wednesday's practice and Fox would only say that it was likely one of them would start. Clausen hasn't been cleared after sustaining a concussion late in Sunday's game.

Pike is still learning how to be a drop-back passer after playing in a spread offense at Cincinnati. He appeared in one game this season and went 6-of-12 passing for 47 yards against New Orleans.

St. Pierre has thrown five passes in eight years in the NFL with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Arizona. He wasn't even in a training camp this year and has spent most of his time recently taking care of his 18-month-old son, Luke, in the Boston area.

The 30-year-old St. Pierre was signed to the practice squad on Friday and promoted to the active roster Tuesday. He's spent 12- to 14-hour days at the stadium the past three days trying to learn the offense.

And now he could perhaps start against Ray Lewis and the Ravens.

"It's a little surreal. I just found my locker today," St. Pierre said. "I'm kind of swimming upstream a little bit."

The Panthers have been doing that all season.

"You get to the point where you almost think, 'Enough's enough of one team going through something,'" Pike said. "We're sitting here with one win and we've got almost half the guys who were starting injured right now."

Notes: Safety Marcus Hudson (ankle) sat out practice, while defensive end Charles Johnson (hip), linebacker Nic Harris (knee) and defensive end Greg Hardy (concussion) were limited. ... The Panthers signed running back Jeremiah Johnson to the practice squad to take Davis' spot. Johnson was a high school teammate of wide receiver David Gettis in Los Angeles.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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