Will Kawann Short Be at Minicamp This Week?
This biggest question mark surrounding the Carolina Panthers is whether or not defensive tackle Kawann Short will be at practice this week. The Panthers and the defensive tackle are currently in negotiations on a contract extension however what seemed to start amicable appears to have broken down.
Short appeared at the first week of voluntary OTAs however missed the last two weeks and reports were that it was due to his disappointment in how negotiations were progressing.
This would be the second failed negotiations for the Panthers after they were not able to reach a new deal with cornerback Josh Norman. However, the difference for Short is that he is still under contract and if he doesn't appear he would be subject to potential fines. He was able to sit out the past two weeks as they are technically voluntary however this upcoming week is mandatory for the players.
Short's actions this week will be a good barometer of where the negotiations stand and his absence would speak volumes.
Who Will Emerge at Cornerback?
The cornerback position is going to be the one almost everyone will have their eyes on this week, as well as at training camp. The team will not have Norman back this week and the assumption is that Bene Benwikere is next in line to replace him as the top cornerback for this defense.
After Benwikere though there is plenty of questions, like who will start opposite Benwikere? It will most likely come down to a competition between veteran Robert McClain, James Bradberry and Daryl Worley and whomever of this group is playing with the ones should have an advantage securing the starting job.
The coaching staff will also need to find a nickelback for this defense and rookie Zack Sanchez looks to be the favorite here. However if Ron Rivera doesn't want to start the rookie, one player to keep in mind would be Colin Jones. The backup safety saw playing time at the end of 2014 at the nickel position after Benwikere moved to the outside.
The cornerback position won't be determined during the team's minicamp this week, however some players can put themselves in excellent position on the depth chart heading into training camp.
Will Mike Scifres Earn Starting Job?
The Panthers have been trying to figure out who will replace the departed Brad Nortman and originally brought inexperienced Swayze Waters and Michael Palardy. However, the organization felt the need to bring a veteran in and signed Mike Scifres last week, releasing Palardy to create a spot on the roster.
Scifres has spent his entire 13-year career with the San Diego Chargers but was released last month after the team drafted a punter in the NFL Draft. Last year, Scifres averaged 45.3 yards per punt, which was only .1 less than Nortman however was much better in touchbacks with only two, compared to Nortman's five.
Which Wide Receivers Will Stand Out?
There are 14 wide receivers currently on the roster, which will mean less snaps to go around for the pass catchers and the snaps they do get will be important. The Panthers' top wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, is working his way back from an ACL injury and has participated in individual drills but yet to do any team activities. This will present some extra reps for the other wide receivers on the roster.
The coaching staff will need to figure out the depth chart over the next six weeks leading up to the opening game against the Denver Broncos. At the top is expected to be Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Funchess and Philly Brown but one will need to emerge as the replacement of Jerricho Cotchery in this offense.
They will also need to determine what to do at the end of the depth chart with players like Damiere Byrd, Brenton Bersin, Kevin Norwood, Stephen Hill and undrafted free agent Keyarris Garrett. Similar to the cornerback position, players who have a strong week in progress will put themselves in good position heading into training camp.