The Panthers found reason for hope early in their Week 1 matchup with the Falcons, with No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young connecting with Hayden Hurst for his first career touchdown pass. But they also lost one of their other top young players, with cornerback Jaycee Horn exiting in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. He was quickly ruled out during halftime. Now, bad news has arrived: Horn is expected to miss multiple weeks.
Head coach Frank Reich told reporters on Wednesday that Horn suffered a “serious” and “freak” hamstring injury, via NFL Media. Horn is currently fielding second opinions, but surgery and injured reserve are options.
Horn, who was drafted No. 8 overall in 2021, clutched his lower leg after suffering the injury on a defensive series, then left for the locker room after an evaluation in the medical tent. He was initially ruled doubtful to return.
The South Carolina product is widely considered one of the top up-and-coming cover men in the NFL, but he’s struggled to stay on the field to start his career. A fractured foot cost him all but three games in his 2021 rookie campaign, and he missed four games in 2022 due to a broken wrist and rib strain. The former first-rounder also sat out significant portions of the Panthers’ 2023 offseason program while recovering from separate ankle and foot issues. Horn has missed 18 games in total over the course of his first two NFL seasons with more to come in Year 3.
The Panthers were already short on regular CB depth going into Week 1, with reserves D’Shawn Jamison and Mac McCain injured. The injury provides cornerback CJ Henderson, the 24-year-old ninth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the opportunity to slide into Carolina’s starting lineup.