Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross just sustained a head injury in the first quarter of the Panthers-Falcons game. They have just announced here in the press box that Gross won't return for this game; the future beyond that is unclear for now.
It was very good to see that Gross waved off the stretcher after a delay of a few minutes. It looked like he had caught a knee in the head -- it was scary to see him motionless on the ground, face down, for several minutes. But Gross was able to get up under his own power and then rode off the field on a cart.
For now, the Panthers have moved Travelle Wharton over from LG to left tackle and put Geoff Hangartner in the game at LG. That worked pretty well on the Panthers' first drive, as they went on an 80-yard march for a TD. But long-term, the Panthers really need Gross. He's such a steady player at one of the game's most difficult positions. He has started throughout his career in Carolina at both right and left tackle.
Gross is one of the Panthers' nicest guys and best players -- there's a reason the team put the franchise tag on him this year, making sure he didn't leave in free agency. Carolina has Gross under a one-year contract for $7.45 million this season; he can leave the team in 2009 via free agency if he and the Panthers can't agree to a long-term contract.