The signing of free agents Thomas DeCoud and Roman Harper, in addition to the shifting of Charles Godfrey to cornerback, appeared to signal that the two newbies would be the starters at safety for 2014. However, an injury-plagued summer for Harper and inconsistent play from the remaining safeties, have left question marks abound.
The signing of Roman Harper was a shock to most Panthers fans.
The recent bad blood in games against the Saints, previous allegations during “Bountygate” of being a dirty player and the fact that he is an aging player, all had fans and media scratching their heads at the signing.
Additionally, Harper has rarely seen the field this offseason trying to fend off turf-toe. At 31-years old, the injury bug has already reared its’ head at Harper and nobody is confident when he will be active in our secondary.
Thomas DeCoud is an acquisition that has a better chance of returning positive rewards, as he is not too far off of an All-Pro season, and a shade younger than Harper at 29-years old. His personality is magnetic and he has actually been a part of the Panthers’ defense on the field thus far.
DeCoud has not anchored down the safety spot as technically as Panther fans would like, but in due time, he will be a solid contributor. It’s crucial to have a complimentary player opposite DeCoud in order for each to play off of each other. This is yet to happen, so until the strong safety spot gets locked down, DeCoud is still in a holding pattern.
Charles Godfrey was asked to move to cornerback and help add veteran depth to a position the Panthers needed help at. Thus far, Godfrey has looked a little lost and chasing after receivers at the nickel slot.
Godfrey was frustrating at safety over the past few years. One moment he is making a game-changing tackle or interception, and next, he’s taking a horrible angle and getting burned. It’s not so much that Godfrey is a great safety, but he looks uncomfortable at CB right now. Recovering from a torn Achilles, perhaps the necessary sharp movements and cuts needed to play corner are not in the cards for Godfrey.
If Roman Harper is going to be such an unknown commodity this season, it might be best to have Godfrey back at safety and roll the dice.
I have high hopes for Robert Lester, but he too, is looking lost in the defensive backfield. Encouraged by some solid play in his rookie season last year, it looked like he could build that into a starting role in ’14. As of now, he looks like a rotational guy that would be better suited for one more year as an apprentice to DeCoud and Harper.
At this point, our front-seven and cornerbacks are locked and loaded. Thomas DeCoud looks ready to roll as well. Strong safety still has question marks.
For me, I channel my inner “Riverboat Ron” and gamble on moving Godfrey back to safety. It’s not like Carolina would be bringing in a Jairus Byrd or Kam Chancellor, but Godfrey’s strengths fit the safety position more than corner. Not to mention, he is no more of a liability on our backend than Harper would be.