It feels like déjà vu.
Just like last season, the Carolina Panthers were quickly eliminated from playoff contention because of an inability to close out opponents in the fourth quarter.
And just like last season, the injuries are starting to mount up to an alarming level.
After placing a franchise-record 18 players on injured reserve last season, the Panthers are approaching that number again in 2012.
Martin, who has been playing well, suffered a torn ACL during the second quarter of last Sunday's loss at the Chiefs. He played in all 12 games before the injury, recording 20 tackles and forcing two fumbles.
Before being shelved for the season, Applewhite had missed the previous six games with a nagging hamstring injury. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound pro played in just five games this year, tallying six tackles and one sack.
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell nearly became the 14th player to get shut down, but was kept on the active roster after being diagnosed with turf toe. He is currently listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Atlanta.
The Panthers also released offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges on Tuesday – just three weeks after signing him.
To fill the empty spots on the roster, the team called up running back Armond Smith and center Thomas Austin from the practice squad, and signed defensive end Mario Addison from Washington's practice squad.
Hardy: Panthers are better than Falcons
Defensive end Greg Hardy raised some eyebrows this week when he told reporters that the Panthers (3-9) are a better team than the Falcons (11-1).
“There's a point where you know you're better than someone. We just didn't pull it out,” Hardy told the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday.
The third-year pro pulled no punches in expressing his disdain for Atlanta, saying he would take plenty of pleasure in ruining their chances of having home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
“I'm trying to mess up their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach, mad about life, a couple depression issues, all types of things,” Hardy added. “It's going to be a long day from my point of view. I'm coming.”
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