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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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