Jim Dedmon/USA Today

Updated Predictions for the Carolina Panthers' 53-Man Roster

The Carolina Panthers have been active the past few days, releasing 11 players and trading for Andy Lee. The roster currently sits at 79 players and will need to get down to 53 players by next week. Brandon Croce predicts what the Panthers depth chart may look like when they face the Denver Broncos next Thursday night.

Offense

Position First String Second String Third String
Quarterback Cam Newton Derek Anderson Joe Webb
Running Back Jonathan Stewart Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker
Fullback Mike Tolbert
Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin Brenton Bersin Kevin Norwood
Wide Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Philly Brown
Slot Wide Receiver Devin Funchess
Tight End Greg Olsen Ed Dickson Scott Simonson
Left Tackle Michael Oher Donald Hawkins
Left Guard Andrew Norwell David Yankey
Center Ryan Kalil Gino Gradkowski
Right Guard Trai Turner Chris Scott
Right Tackle Mike Remmers Daryl Williams

Notes

  • The Carolina Panthers cut two offensive tackles in their first round of roster moves, releasing David Foucalt and recently signed Willie Smith. The team could decide to go with only one backup tackle, which would most likely be Daryl Williams. The second-year player has seen time at both left and right tackle this preseason. However, the more likely scenario is that they keep Williams and Donald Hawkins.
  • The wide receiver position is a tight race as we quickly approach the end of the preseason. Right now, it is a three-man race between Brenton BersinKevin Norwood and Damiere Byrd with one making the roster if they keep five wide receivers and two receivers if the Panthers keep six on the roster. I would expect them to keep six and I believe the performance of late by Norwood gives him a slight edge over Byrd but this race is far from over.

Defense

Position First String Second String Third String
Defensive End Kony Ealy Ryan Delaire
Defensive Tackle Kawann Short Vernon Butler Kyle Love
Defensive Tackle Star Lotulelei Paul Soliai
Defensive End Charles Johnson Mario Addison
Strongside Linebacker Shaq Thompson A.J. Klein Jeremy Cash
Middle Linebacker Luke Kuechly A.J. Klein
Weakside Linebacker Thomas Davis A.J. Klein David Mayo
Cornerback Daryl Worley Robert McClain
Cornerback James Bradberry
Nickelback Bene Benwikere Zack Sanchez
Strong Safety Kurt Coleman Dean Marlowe
Free Safety Tre Boston Colin Jones

Notes

  • The safety position has to be the biggest concern for the coaching staff right now because they have been hit hard by injury. However, when healthy the depth they have with Dean Marlowe and Colin Jones is more than sufficient. However, if Marlowe is not able to fully recover from his hamstring injury, the team may decide to carry a fifth safety. This would not be good news for a player like Jeremy Cash.
  • The other spot that hasn't really been decided yet is the backup defensive end position which right now has Ryan Delaire in it. The biggest competition for that spot is most likely Wes Horton, who brings a different skill set to the position. Delaire and Mario Addison are both essentially speed rushers who can step in on passing downs. Horton though is a bigger body and would be a good addition to stop the run and this could help his chances of making the final roster.

Special Teams

Position First String Second String
Placekicker Graham Gano
Punter Andy Lee
Long Snapper J.J. Jansen
Kickoff Return Fozzy Whittaker Ted Ginn Jr.
Punt Return Ted Ginn Jr. Philly Brown

Notes

  • The Panthers finally appear to have their starting punter after trading for Andy Lee on Monday. This position has been a revolving door this offseason with players like Swayze WatersMichael PalardyKasey Redfern and Mike Scifres, who is the only player still left on the roster. Lee is a three time Pro Bowler and is an excellent addition to the special teams.

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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