- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2009

From combined dispatches

Injury-riddled and out of the playoff race before December, the Carolina Panthers seemed certain to have their first season of at least 10 losses under coach John Fox.

Instead, they’re playing their best football of the season, just in time for the embattled Fox to have a shot at returning in 2010.

A day after the Panthers (7-8) routed the New York Giants for their third win in four games, the Charlotte Observer reported Fox and general manager Marty Hurney will be “offered the opportunity to return next season” by owner Jerry Richardson.

However, the report Monday said Fox will not be given a contract extension. He’s due to make more than $6 million in 2010, the final season of his deal.

EAGLES: Center Jamaal Jackson tore a knee ligament in Sunday’s win over Denver and will miss the rest of the season.

Jackson anchored an offensive line that has been shuffled numerous times because of several injuries to starters. He made his 71st consecutive start and had been Philadelphia’s only offensive player to play every snap until he got hurt in the first half.

Coach Andy Reid said an MRI exam revealed Jackson had a torn ACL in his left knee. Right guard Nick Cole replaced Jackson at center, and Max Jean-Gilles took Cole’s spot.

BROWNS: New Cleveland president Mike Holmgren has not decided whether coach Eric Mangini will be back next season.

Holmgren, who signed a five-year contract to try and fix the Browns, said he will waituntil he arrives in Cleveland next week before making any changes. Holmgren plans to meet with Mangini after the Browns (4-11) complete their season. He said it would not be fair to discuss Mangini’s status with one game left.

“He’s at the end of finishing his first season. The team is doing well and responding to him,” said Holmgren, who was in Arizona on Monday and spoke to reporters on a conference call.

COWBOYS: Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis was headed home from the D.C. area Monday, a day after undergoing an emergency appendectomy that kept him from missing Dallas’ victory over the Redskins.

“Everything went well,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. “He’s feeling good today. He’s sore. … He says he’s going to be back tomorrow. It wouldn’t surprise me.”

DOLPHINS: Inside linebacker Channing Crowder is ending the season on crutches.

Crowder will miss the rest of the season with a right foot injury, a person familiar with the case said. The person said Crowder underwent an MRI exam, but a decision had not yet been made regarding whether he needs surgery.

RAMS: Guard Mark Setterstrom has a torn left triceps that will keep him out of the season finale against San Francisco and likely will require surgery.

Setterstrom was injured in the first half of Sunday’s 31-10 loss at Arizona.

BRONCOS: Denver will be without starting left guard Russ Hochstein and returner Kenny McKinley for the season finale after both suffered injuries at Philadelphia.

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