The Panthers have released their first unofficial depth chart with a few areas of note.
With over half of training camp complete and the festivities of Fan Fest over, the Panthers have released their first unofficial depth chart.
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As a team returning an overwhelming majority of players from its NFC Champion roster, the Panthers have very few big surprises to note with the starting units. Aside from Tre Boston at safety, Kelvin Benjamin back at wide receiver, the cornerback overhaul and the punting competition, all other positions will feature the same starter as in 2015.
However, there were a few curious rankings from the twos and threes. And while this may be an “unofficial” depth chart with still another half of training camp and four preseason games to go, it’s certainly a sign of where things stand on the Panthers roster.
Here are the top areas and depth chart rankings to note from the unofficial lineup and what to make of them.
Fozzy Whittaker appears to be hanging onto the number two running back spot ahead of second year pros Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher – at least for the time being. Whittaker is slotted in as the number two, the same role he has had for the last two seasons with the team. Many expected, and probably still do, for Artis-Payne and even possibly Wegher to pass up Whittaker for the backup spot but for now it appears it’s still Whittaker’s to lose.
With Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown looking like locks for the 53-man roster, the battle for the fifth, and a possible sixth, receiver spot is truly up for grabs. From Brenton Bersin to Damiere Byrd to Kevin Norwood there are multiple players vying for these spots. One who was presumably in the mix, and thought of as a leading candidate, but was left entirely off of the depth chart is Stephen Hill. The former second round pick wasn’t among the top eight receivers and was ranked behind all three previously mentioned players and even long shot LaRon Byrd. To this point, it’s unclear why exactly Hill was slotted so low but it obviously isn’t a good thing for his prospects of making the cut.
Kony Ealy will step back into the starting defensive end role he previously occupied last season before ceding it to now retired Jared Allen. Opposite him, longtime Panther Charles Johnson will try to get back to his former self after a disappointing 2015. Behind these two are a plethora of young and potential filled options. Mario Addison – a pass rushing specialist – looks like he’ll have his backup up spot back, but it a bit of a surprise, Wes Horton is currently the second backup ahead of the likes of Ryan Delaire and Rakim Cox. Horton does have plenty of experience with Carolina but Delaire and Cox both have higher ceilings and were expected to make strides toward an increase in playing time. There’s still time of course but right now Horton might have his spot back.
- The punting competition in Carolina is another area to keep an eye on and right now it looks like the 13-year vet, Mike Scifres, has the edge. Scifres was ranked atop the depth chart for Fan Fest ahead of CFL standout Swayze Waters. The fact that the Panthers even brought in Scifres indicates they were having reservations about Waters and while the competition for the starting job is still up for grabs, the vet looks like he’s ahead at the moment.