Panthers’ Jaycee Horn, Ian Thomas to return from IR

CHARLOTTE — The injury-plagued Carolina Panthers got some good news on Monday. Two players with crucial roles on the roster are returning to the field.

The Panthers designated cornerback Jaycee Horn and tight end Ian Thomas to return from injured reserve. That opened a 21-day window for them to practice, though they could be added back to the active roster at any time.

The news means Horn and Thomas could be eligible to play as early as Sunday against Dallas.

Horn suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener, while Thomas has missed the last four games with a calf strain.

In other injury news, linebacker Brian Burns and cornerback C.J. Henderson are still in concussion protocol. Head coach Frank Reich said Monday that he’s optimistic about their progress.

Reich also said he’s anticipating “good news” with wide receiver D.J. Chark’s elbow injury.

The Panthers, who have the worst record in the league this season, suffered a 16-13 loss in Chicago on Thursday night.

Reich said he’s not making any coaching changes at this point, though he hasn’t ruled out taking over play-calling duties. He said he’s still thinking that through and, regardless of who is calling the plays, it just hasn’t been good enough.

“However we’ve been doing the play-calling, whoever’s been doing the play-calling, we haven’t performed as an offense, so let me just make that point clear first of all,” Reich said Monday. “As I look towards, now, the last half of the season, what’s the best dynamic and why? Any decision that’s ultimately made is just going to be based on that one pure factor. So that’s how we’ll approach it.”

In mid-October, Reich announced offensive coordinator Thomas Brown would take over play-calling duties. Since then, the Panthers have gotten their only win of the season so far.

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