The picture is starting to clear up on who is going to be on the field for the Carolina Panthers against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. Head Coach Ron Rivera said during his press conference after practice on Thursday that Kurt Coleman would be the starting safety over Tre Boston. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as Coleman has been playing with the starting defense for most of training camp and preseason.
Rivera did say that the decision to go with Coleman was because of how he performed, not necessarily because of something Boston didn’t do. He said both players played very well and this was not an easy decision. The deciding factor though may have been Coleman’s experience and also his experience in this defense from playing for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He also mentioned during the press conference that first round rookie Shaq Thompson is expected to be the starting strongside linebacker (SAM) over veteran A.J. Klein. He did leave the door open a bit for Klein to start if the Jaguars come out in a different formation that they don’t expect.
The linebacker/safety out of the University of Washington had a slow start to training camp due to injuries but played very well down the stretch. Even though Thompson is the starter, this is a position that should be run by committee with Klein, playing more on running downs, and Thompson in the game for passing situations.
Coleman and Thompson will most likely be joining defensive tackle Kyle Love in the starting lineup, who was named the starter in place of injured defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, according to Charlotte Observers’ Joseph Person. Love was on the Panthers’ roster for the final two regular season games but didn’t get onto the field until the final playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The former New England Patriot and Jacksonville Jaguar will play next to Kawann Short but reserves Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards are expected to play significant snaps at defensive tackle as well. This should help keep all four have enough energy to play a high level in the Jacksonville heat.
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.