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With Star Lotulelei out, Panthers’ hopes get even slimmer

Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 28: Defensive lineman Star Lotulelei #98 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on August 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Panthers defeated the Steelers 10-0. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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The Panthers were already huge underdogs on Saturday night in Seattle. Their odds have just grown even slimmer.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has confirmed that defensive tackle Star Lotulelei suffered a broken bone in his foot at practice on Tuesday and will not play on Saturday against the Seahawks. That’s a huge loss to Carolina’s defense.

Lotulelei is a big presence in the middle of the line, and his absence will be felt when Marshawn Lynch is running up the middle. And although Lotulelei only recorded two sacks during the regular season, he can be a disruptive interior pass rusher as well. Russell Wilson will be glad Lotulelei isn’t playing.

Rivera says Lotulelei has already had surgery and that there’s still a chance he could heal in time to play in the Super Bowl. But Lotulelei’s absence makes the Panthers’ already slim chances of getting to the Super Bowl even slimmer.