While the Carolina Panthers traveled west to St. Louis on Saturday for their Sunday game against the Rams, two former Tar Heels on the Panthers' injured reserve list were on the sideline for the William & Mary game.
Wallace Wright, a receiver and special teams standout from 2002-05, is now a Panther after spending four years with the New York Jets. He has a shoulder injury and hopes to be a factor in the Panthers' future once he's recovered.
The Panthers signed Wright in hopes of leading a turnaround of a 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.
Hilee Taylor, a defensive end from 2004-07, has been a pass-rush and special teams contributor in Charlotte for three years but is sidelined now with a knee injury. He, too, plans a full recovery and return to action.
Meanwhile, receiver and kick-return dynamo Brandon Tate continues his ascendancy to NFL stardom. Tate, a Tar Heel from 2005-08, caught three passes for 101 yards in New England's 28-18 win over Minnesota Sunday. One was a juggling snare that had bounced off a Viking defender and another was a 65-yard touchdown on an ad-lib route as QB Tom Brady was forced to scramble.
Former Tar Heel tight end Alge Crumpler was also quite visible in the New England win as he continues to exhibit his exemplary blocking skills into his second decade in the NFL.