The Carolina Panthers placed the defensive end on injured reserve Wednesday with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The injury forced Peppers to miss Saturday's loss to Dallas, ending his consecutive games streak at 78.
Peppers finished with only three sacks in 14 games, ending a streak of three straight years with at least 10½ sacks. He was not elected to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2003.
The poor year leaves Carolina with a decision to make in the offseason. With one year left on Peppers' contract, the Panthers will likely have to rework his deal before next season to open up salary-cap space.
Before this season, it was assumed Peppers would get a new contract rivaling the six-year, $72 million deal given to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Peppers, who had a career-high 13 sacks last year, said earlier this month that he doesn't believe his low numbers this year will affect his value.
Taking Peppers' place on the roster is kicker Rhys Lloyd, signed from Baltimore's practice squad to give Carolina a stronger leg for kickoffs. John Kasay has a league-low two touchbacks and has put five kickoffs out of bounds.
The Panthers also signed receiver Travis Taylor, who played briefly with St. Louis and Oakland this season. Taylor replaces center Justin Hartwig, who was placed on injured reserve Monday with a knee injury.
The Panthers added two players to the practice squad on Wednesday: former Wake Forest safety Patrick Ghee and defensive back Eddie Canonico, who has played in the Arena Football League.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press