Carolina Panthers Training Camp Preview: Defensive Backs

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 08: Cornerback Chris Gamble #20 of the Carolina Panthers intercepts a pass intended for Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on November 8, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 20: Richard Marshall #31 of the Carolina Panthers is slow to get up against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 20, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We’re coming down to the wire. Today, we’re rolling with the defensive backs, and tomorrow we’ll wrap it all up with special teams. Count ‘em, one day until players report to training camp, and two until it all kicks off.

In today’s edition, defensive backs are comprised of cornerbacks and safeties.

During the offseason, it seemed as though one player had survived the purge of veterans. Weeks later, safety Chris Harris was on a flight back to Chicago, as Carolina had just traded him for some help at the linebacker position, in Jamar Williams. Was it a good move? Well, trading Harris elsewhere was a good move. He was slow in pass-coverage.

Was acquiring Williams for Harris a good move? Well, so far it seems like it, if not just for the added depth factor at the position. I’ve heard a lot of good on Williams, so we’ll see what happens there.

So with the loss of Harris, this leaves the team with more youth at another position. Currently starting in Harris’ place should be Charles Godfrey, although I am now hearing it’s Sherrod Martin.

I personally would like to see Martin used at free safety and Godfrey at strong safety, but so long as the guys are in the right place, I suppose it doesn’t matter all that much.

The Panthers were quite active in the market for defensive backs during the offseason. At safety, Carolina brought in Aaron Francisco and Marcus Hudson. Just to solidify the position a little more with depth, the team also drafted Jordan Pugh out of Texas A&M.

It seems to me that for now, the starting jobs belong to Godfrey and Martin, but with very little difference in age and experience between the veterans and the rookie, there will still be competition for the backup positions (which is like one, maybe two). Francisco and Hudson are earmarked for special teams at this point, but may still compete for a safety spot.

The cornerbacks is a much longer list. Add to that, Carolina saw some changes at the position in terms of free agency, and who is no longer with the team. Dante’ Wesley finds himself a new home in Detroit, but the Cats still have their core of corners returning once again. Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall will once again man the two starting corner spots, but who comes in to play nickel? And might the Panthers also utilize a dime corner?

The man who must perform this year and show his worth on more than just special teams, is none other than Captain Munnerlyn. He looked really good during training camp and practices last season, but fizzled for most of the regular season.

Munnerlyn’s direct competition looks to be C.J. Wilson. Wilson is a four-year vet who has shown some upside when needed, but to me, Munnerlyn fits more into a nickel package, where Wilson might find himself more-or-less relegated to special teams play and any dime packages (if the Panthers choose to use any).

Not to come up short-handed, Carolina also brought in extra help at the corner position. In free agency, the team signed Marcus Walker. The team also signed Robert McClain and R.J. Stanford, who are both rookies this season.

Once again, this is another position with a lot of youth and unknown answers. There are four guys (Marshall, Gamble, Godfrey, and Martin) with whom we are familiar; two of which (Godfrey and Martin) we are still learning about, as they are considerably younger than Marshall and Gamble in “football years.”

Tomorrow’s the last day. We look at special teams tomorrow, which will encompass the return game, placekicker, punter, and long snapper. Not a whole lot to talk about, but there are a few things to look at, so stay tuned!

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Tags: Aaron Francisco C.J. Wilson Captain Munnerlyn Carolina Panthers Charles Godfrey Chris Gamble Chris Harris Cornerbacks Dante Wesley Defensive Backs Jordan Pugh Marcus Hudson Marcus Walker NFL R.J. Stanford Richard Marshall Robert McClain Safeties Sherrod Martin Training Camp Preview

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