Panthers special-teams specialist Wright out for the season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers lost a key member of their special-teams unit Tuesday when Wallace Wright was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury that requires surgery.

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The Panthers, to get to the NFL limit of 75 players, also placed linebacker Thomas Davis on the reserve-physically-unable-to-perform list, waived receivers Dexter Jackson and Oliver Young and placed defensive end Hilee Taylor on injured reserve following knee surgery.

Wright, one of Carolina's few free-agent signings in the offseason, came from the New York Jets in hopes of leading a turnaround of a Carolina special-teams unit that ranked near the bottom of the league in punt and kickoff coverage in 2009. Wright was third in special-teams tackles with the Jets last season and was tied for the team lead a year earlier.

"He was a guy we were counting on pretty heavily both at the receiver position and the kicking game," Panthers coach John Fox said.

Although he has caught only eight passes in his four-year NFL career, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound Wright had been getting some work with Carolina's starting offense in the preseason. He was hurt in Saturday's victory over Tennessee when he was hit hard and fumbled after a catch.

"He worked very hard this offseason and had a tremendous camp," Fox said. "He'll require surgery on his shoulder, and that's why he hit the IR list. Of course, we're disappointed, and so is he."

Fox said receiver Charly Martin, who is working his way back from a broken finger, will now have a shot to make the 53-man roster as a special-teams player. Martin, who was hurt July 30, was cleared this week to catch balls.

Jackson was Tampa Bay's second-round pick in 2008, but the former Appalachian State star had little impact as a return man or receiver and was waived by the Buccaneers last year in final cuts. He spent the final 12 games last season on Carolina's practice squad, but he and Young failed to get into the receiver rotation at camp.

The Panthers moved Davis to the reserve-PUP list to give them time to see if he can make a speedy recovery from the second torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in six months. The Panthers will be able to decide between Weeks 6 and 9 if Davis, in the final year of his contract, will be able to play late in the season.

Taylor, considered a long shot to make the 53-man roster, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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