Panthers to have 9 different starters

When the Carolina Panthers open their first minicamp in early May, they will have at least nine different starters than last year. The majority of changes, although not by much, are on offense.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is primed to take over for DeShaun Foster, who was cut and later signed with San Francisco.

The Panthers let No. 2 and 3 receivers Drew Carter and Keary Colbert leave via free agency, which means Muhsin Muhammad, Dwayne Jarrett and Ryne Robinson will need to step up in those roles.

And the team has completely revamped its offensive line, with new starters at all five positions. Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton could be the only returning starters, with former second-round pick Ryan Kalil taking over at center, free agent pickup Keydrick Vincent likely to win the job at right guard and a rookie-to-be-named-later or veteran Jeremy Bridges likely to wind up starting at right tackle.

Look for four new starters this year on defense.

The Panthers have not shown much interest in re-signing starting defensive end Mike Rucker or free safety Deke Cooper and they traded defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to the New York Jets for two draft picks.

As it stands now, Tyler Brayton, a free agent acquisition from Oakland, stands a chance to compete for Rucker's old right end spot with second-year player Charles Johnson. Damione Lewis will move up from a reserve role to take over for Jenkins at tackle, while the Panthers will continue to look to add depth there.

And who knows what will happen at free safety?

There will be one other change as well as the Panthers will make room for their top free agent pickup thus far - linebacker Landon Johnson. He can play all three spots, but with Jon Beason occupying the middle and Thomas Davis on the strong side, look for Johnson to get the start over Na'il Diggs at weak-side linebacker.

There's always the possibility, although a very slim one, the Panthers could move Davis back to free safety. However, given his progression at linebacker over the last season that moves seems unlikely.

Panther Insider Top Stories