Roster Cuts: An Early look for the Panthers

With just two preseason games remaining, the Panthers are going to have to make some moves sooner rather than later when it comes to roster cuts. With a shortened offseason, the new rules say that each NFL team has to cut down its rosters to 80 players by August 30th and then to the final 53 man roster by September 3rd.

Currently the Panthers have 87 men on their roster, after cutting wide receiver Trent Guy and defensive tackles Tommie Durhart and Louis Ellis,  meaning they will have to cut 7 players by the 30th. With less week left of the preseason,   players have only a handful of practices and one game left to make an impression on head coach Ron Rivera and the coaching staff. Lets take a look at the roster breakdown right now.

  • Quarterback

Cam Newton, Jimmy Clausen, Derek Anderson and Tony Pike

Who Stays: Newton Clausen and Anderson

Who Goes: Pike

Comments: More than likely Pike will be placed on the injured reserve or be given an injury settlement after having to have surgery on his elbow. I don’t know how major the surgery is, but any surgery for a quarterback on an elbow is never a good sign. As for the other quarterbacks. Newton will be named the starter sometime next week, with Clausen and Anderson backing him up.

  • Runningback

DeAngelo Williams, Jonathon Stewart, Mike Goodson, Tyrelle Sutton and Josh Vaughan

Who Stays: Williams, Stewart, Goodson and Sutton

Who Goes: Vaughan

Comments: This is pretty much the most straight forward position on the team. The top three running backs were set prior to camp and will stay that way. Sutton provides a lot of flexibility as the forth running back because he can double as a fullback in a pinch.

  • Fullback

Tony Fiammetta and Rashawn Jackson

Who Stays: Fiammetta

Who Goes: Jackson

Comments: Fiammetta has missed the last three weeks with a concussion but that shouldn’t effect his starting spot. He started almost all of last season and showed steady improvement as the season went on. Fiammetta isn’t the best blocking fullback but he as great hands out of the backfield and hopefully will be utilized a bit more.

  • Wide Receiver

Steve Smith, David Clowney, Darvin Adams, Armanti Edwards, Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, Wallace Wright, Kealoha Pilares, Jamorris Warren, Charly Martin, Legedu Naanee

Who Stays: Smith, Edwards, LaFell, Pilares, Naanee and Martin

Who Goes: Warren, Clowney Adams and Wright

Comments: Smith, Edwards LaFell and Naanee are locks, while the team just drafted Pilares, so I expect them to keep him as well.  This position really depends on if the Panthers keep five or six wide receivers. I believe they will keep six which gives Charly Martin a spot. He has great hands but has really showed how valuable he is on special teams. He has been everywhere on kickoffs and punt returns and earned a spot on this team.

  • Tight End

Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, Gary Barnaige, Ben Hartsock, Greg Smith and Richie Brockel

Who Stays: Shockey, Olsen, Hartsock

Who Goes: Barnaige, Smith and Brockel

Comments: Shockey and Olsen are the starting tight ends so they are safe and Hartsock was brought in to block in the running game, so I would guess all three of those players will make the cut. Barnaige was a wild card but with his recent foot injury I expect them to place him on IR to save him for next season.

  • Offensive Tackle

Jacob Bender, Jordan Gross, Jeff Otah, Gary Williams, Lee Ziemba, Zack Williams

Who Stays: Gross, Otah, Gary Williams, and Ziemba

Who Goes: Bender, Zack Williams

Comments:  Gross and Otah will start at the tackles with Williams, who got a lot of experience last season starting, and Ziemba the team’s seventh round draft pick backing the two up. Zack Williams is the team’s sixth round pick and is very versatile, capable of playing both guard and tackle, so expect him to stay on.

  • Offensive Guard

Mackenzy Bernadeau, C.J. Davis, Geoff Schwartz Travelle Wharton, Duke Robinson, Byron Bell and Bryant Browning

Who Stays: Wharton, Schwartz, Bernadeau, Bell and Davis

Who Goes: Robinson, Browning

Comments:  Schwartz has been out for most of the preseason with a hip injury. If he doesn’t get back soon the team may have to place him on IR. If that is the case, Bernadeau or Robinson will start. The team has been waiting on Robinson to really come into his own but the former South Carolina offensive guard has struggled with his weight and has been unable to stay on the field.

  • Center

Ryan Pugh, Ryan Kalil and John Gianninoto

Who Stays: Kalil and Pugh

Who Goes: Gianninoto

Comments:  Since Kalil just received a huge contract extension, its safe to say he is a lock. Pugh was Newton’s center at Auburn so I expect him to stay on.

  • Defensive End

Charles Johnson, Everette Brown, Ugo Chinasa, Greg Hardy, Malcolm Tatum, Eric Norwood, Thomas Keiser

Who Stays: Johnson, Hardy, Brown and Norwood

Who Goes:Chinasa, Tatum and Keiser

Comments:  Johnson and Hardy will be the starting defensive ends, with Brown and Norwood coming in on passing downs, while Johnson shifts over to defensive tackle.

  • Defensive Tackle

Sione Fua, Kentwan Balmer, Nick Hayden, Corey Irvin, Terrell McClain, Andre Neblett, DeJuan Robinson

Who Stays: Fua, McClain, Irvin and Balmer

Who Goes: Hayden, Neblett, Robinson

Comments:  This was the most competitive battle in camp and very well could change based on free agents. But Fua and McClain are locks. Both players were third round picks and have shown some potential. Irvin has really stepped up after missing all of last season while Balmer was claimed for a reason. The coaches must think he can help this team. Most likely the Panthers will sign another defensive tackle once team’s cut down their roster so this is not set in stone.

  • Linebackers

Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, James Anderson, Dan Connor, Omar Gaither, Sean Ware, Jordan Senn, Jason Williams, Lawernce Wilson, Thomas Williams

Who Stays: Beason, Davis, Anderson, Connor, Gaither and Senn

Who Goes: Wilson, Thomas Williams and Ware

Comments:  One of the deepest positions on the team, the Panthers have a solid trio of starters in Beason, Davis and Anderson, with Connor filling in for Beason until he returns. Gaither has ties with McDermott in Philadelphia, so expect him to stay as well.

  • Cornerbacks

Kendric Burney, Chris Gamble, Brandon Hogan, Chevis Jackson, Robert McClain, Captain Munnerlyn, R.J.  Stanford, C.J. Wilson

Who Stays: Gamble, McClain, Munnerlyn, Stanford

Who Goes: Hogan, Jackson, Wilson, Burney

Comments:  Cornerback is another position that could drastically change after roster cuts. The Panthers need to add some depth there, especially since Chris Gamble has looked awful so far this preseason. I expect Hogan to head to the IR with his knee issues. I think the Panthers like what they have seen out of Kendric Burney but I don’t know if he is better than McClain and Stanford. They may try and sneak Burney to the practice squad if possible.  CJ Wilson has had numerous chances in Carolina and has never really showed anything.

  • Safeties

Charles Godfrey,Michael Greco, Sherrod Martin, Kevin Payne, Jordan Pugh, Sean Considine

Who Stays: Godfrey, Greco, Martin, Payne and Pugh

Who Goes: Greco, Payne

Comments:  Godfrey and Martin are the starters without a doubt. The duo started most of last season and that should stay the same this year. Pugh has shown glimpses of ability especially on special team’s so he is a keeper. Considine was just signed and provides some veteran experience back there, plus he is another Philly guy.  Greco is the wild card. I have him listed with the safeties because that is what the Panthers official site has him listed at but he plays both safety and cornerback. He saw a lot of time in the nickel with the starters last week and has had a nice preseason but a think it comes down to experience between him and Payne and Payne wins that one.

  • Special Teams

Olindo Mare, Jason Baker, J.J. Jansen, Adi Kunalic, Chris Massey

Who Stays:Mare, Baker and Jansen

Who Goes: Massey and Kunalic

Comments:  Baker and Mare are locks, the biggest battle is between Jansen and Massey. Massey is older and has more experience, but Jansen was the Panthers long snapper last season and performed well. I think it is a toss up between the two players, with Jansen winning out due to last season.

So there you go. Here is the full position break down

QB: 3

RB: 5

WR: 6

TE: 3

OT: 5

OG: 4

C: 2

DE: 4

DT: 4

LB: 6

CB: 4

S: 4

K: 1

P: 1

LS: 1

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