Defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu missed practice Wednesday with a sprained right ankle, making it possible a defensive starter will miss a game for the first time this season.
All 11 defenders have started all 14 games, but Kemoeatu was seen on crutches on wearing a protective boot on Monday. A key to Carolina's run defense, Kemoeatu's absence would hurt as the Panthers (11-3) face the run-oriented Giants (11-3) with the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs at stake.
"We've got guys on the team we feel good about that have played a lot of football all season long," coach John Fox said. "It's not like Maake or anybody out there plays every play. We've got guys out there that have made great contributions and we'll expect the same thing this week against New York."
Fox, always secretive on injuries, would only say that Kemoeatu is day to day. If he can't play, veteran Darwin Walker could get the start.
Walker was on the inactive list for last Sunday's game against Denver. So when Kemoeatu went down in the second half, defensive end Charles Johnson moved to his tackle position.
The Panthers also have an injury concern on the offensive line. Right guard Keydrick Vincent, the only offensive lineman to start every game, missed practice Wednesday with a groin injury. Jeremy Bridges would likely get the start if Vincent can't play.