5 players who should make the Panthers practice squad if released

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Omar Bayless
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Omar Bayless /
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Carolina Panthers
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Kenny Robinson /

Which players would be locks for the Carolina Panthers practice squad if they don’t do enough initially to make the 53-man roster?

It’s a nervous wait for those on the Carolina Panthers hoping to make the 53-man roster. Those in power within the organization have already begun trimming the fat following their preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the number reduced to 71 on Saturday following the release of six players.

Another 18 face disappointment before Tuesday’s 4 p.m deadline. And there might be even more than that if the Panthers like someone sitting on the waiver wire who could come in and make an immediate impact.

This is one of the more difficult aspects of the business. Some are experiencing this for the first time while others are all-too-aware of what’s coming next when their phone rings in the coming days.

All hope is not lost for some, with the practice squad a distinct possibility providing that they clear waivers. Here are five players who should make the Panthers practice squad if released and not picked up by someone else.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports) Thomas Fletcher /

Thomas Fletcher – Carolina Panthers LS

It’s still unknown which way the Panthers are going to go at long-snapper. They drafted Thomas Fletcher in the sixth round, but the Alabama product has been pushed all the way by J.J. Jansen as expected throughout the offseason.

Removing the team’s longest-serving player is a big call, especially considering how consistent Jansen’s been overall. Carolina might decide to go one more season with the veteran, leaving Fletcher on the waiver wire ahead of his rookie campaign.

If he clears waivers, which does appear unlikely, then the Panthers should bring Fletcher back onto the practice squad with a view to taking over from Jansen in 2022. However, this would be a strong indicator that the team should have gone in a different direction with the pick in the first place.