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Carolina Panthers: Early Look at Who Could be on the Roster Bubble

While this may be considered the offseason, for NFL players this time is as valuable as during the season. There will be plenty of players fighting for their jobs over the next few months and we take a look at five players on the Carolina Panthers who could be on the roster bubble this summer.

Wes Horton

Wes Horton has had a rocky relationship with the Carolina Panthers last season. The defensive end went from starter in 2014 to being cut in 2015 after being suspended for performance enhancing drugs. The Panthers did re-sign him though at the end of the year and finished the season on the practice squad.

Horton could find himself on the outside looking in unless he has a strong performance this offseason. The defense is successful because of the talent on their defensive line with the return of Charles Johnson, the emergence of Kony Ealy and the dynamic duo of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

However, it is the depth that makes this group special and this is why Horton is most likely on the roster bubble. After the team's starters on defensive end, the team has Mario Addison and Ryan Delaire, who both played significant snaps for this team, as well as Rakim Cox and Arthur Miley, who has spent time developing with the organization.

Horton hasn't had much of an impact over the last year and with players with higher upside like Cox and Miley, he could struggle to make the roster.

Ed Dickson

Ed Dickson did sign a three-year deal with the Panthers prior to last season however the team could be ready to go in another direction at the position. The Panthers used a seventh-round pick on Beau Sandland and then signed Jake McGee as an undrafted free agent.

Dickson will be 29 years of age at the start of the season and isn't the long-term answer, so the team could be looking to add youth behind Greg Olsen. This is why they added Sandland and McGee this offseason.

The former Oregon Duck had a career season in 2011 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens with 54 receptions, 528 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He hasn't been able to replicate those numbers with the Panthers with only 27 receptions, 236 receiving yards and three touchdowns combined in 2014 and 2015.

Teddy Williams

Another player who signed a contract with the Panthers prior to last season was cornerback Teddy Williams and similar to Horton, it could come down to a numbers game for him. 

While Williams is listed as cornerback on the roster, he primarily played special teams for the Panthers last year. He had limited experience at cornerback and wasn't considered at the end of the year when the team was thin at the position.

This year however the defense is much deeper at the position, adding four cornerbacks to the roster. They first added Brandon Boykin in free agency before drafting three cornerbacks in the NFL Draft. 

These four players combined with the returning Bene Benwikere and Robert McClain don't leave many spots left on the roster for Williams.

Fozzy Whittaker

The Panthers didn't add any running backs this offseason however that doesn't mean there may not be any changes to the backfield. There is no question that Jonathan Stewart is the team's primary running back and should see a majority of the carries in the upcoming season.

Last year, Fozzy Whittaker was the primary backup and the third down running back. The offense though has some quality running backs that should push him for playing time and those few remaining carries. The biggest threat has to be last year's fifth round pick, Cameron Artis-Payne, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the final three regular season games.

Artis-Payne did spend a majority of the season on the 53-man roster and shouldn't be a threat to Whittaker's spot unlike Brandon Wegher. The undrafted free agent spent the majority of the year on the practice squad and after a strong preseason, many fans were hoping to see him get on the field. Another strong offseason and preseason, and the coaching staff will have a tough decision to make between Whittaker and Wegher.

Kevin Norwood

The Panthers traded for Norwood during training camp last year after injuries to Stephen Hill and Kelvin Benjamin ended their seasons early. Norwood though struggled to get onto the field and make the active roster each week. He had one target all year, which actually went through his hands and was intercepted.

This year could be the make or break season for the former Seattle Seahawk wide receiver. Any time a player joins a new team that close to the season, it is tough to get into rhythm with the quarterback and learn an entire offense.

That excuse won't be available for Norwood this year after an entire season learning this offense however he could struggle to work his way up the depth chart. Benjamin is back, along with Devin FunchessTed Ginn Jr.Brenton Bersin and Philly Brown which may not leave a spot for Norwood. He will need to leapfrog someone if he hopes to make the roster.

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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