The day before 53

Where will the Panthers have a hard time deciding who to cut? Funny enough, because we lack a lot of higher end talent in several fields, it makes decisions rather difficult as the talent is pretty even.

Offensive Line

At center we have Byers vs Folkerts. Both UDFA’s have a ceiling of career backup, but I think Byers makes the 53 in his second year here while Folkerts is stashed away on the practice squad as a reserve center.

At guard, Hicks is ahead of Mobley, but realistically they are battling for a practice squad spot with Silatolu, Wharton, G. Williams and Scott well entrenched. Hicks has the advantage.

At tackle, we have Chandler vs Brown vs Chisolm. Gross, Bell and swing G/T G. Williams & Wharton it could leave just one more position open. I think Chandler has the upside because he’s shown excellent pass protection that continued in last night’s 4th preseason game. Brown could wind up on the PS.

Wide Receivers

Smitty, LaFell, Ginn, Gettis, Hixon and AE should all make the team. The others (Shaw, Ikharo, Berson) are left to battle a possible PS spot.

Running Backs

If Stew, Barner and Tolbert (“FB”) were all fully healthy, we’d be set to go for the year. But as of right now, either A. Smith or T. Poole will likely make the 53 (at least until/if Stew makes a return this season). I’m not sure on PS eligibility for these guys (i’m leaning towards they both ARE) so we’ll just have to see how things play out.

Tight Ends / Full backs

I would hate to see Brandon Williams miss the cut since he’s so raw, but every fan would agree we don’t have much in Brockel and Hartsock. Both don’t offer much to our offense. If Williams reverts to the PS, I think someone will swoop in off his potential alone.

Quarterbacks

I can’t really tell if it’s for sure, but Rivera made a lot of excuses for Jimmy last night. DA has solidified the #2 for another year but I don’t know if the plan is to eat up Jim’s dead money ($950k) to add a back end talent. There are more talented players that deserve the spot over him, but I can’t tell if they will roll with 2 qb’s this year per the talk around the community.

Defensive Line

For the DT’s it’s really Fua by himself and whether there is a spot left on the 53 (probably not if we carry a 5th DE). Walker could find a spot on the PS.

The DE’s have shown well in preseason and we have a solid 4 man rotation. You could see either Horton or Roh grabbing a 5th DE spot since both have shown good promise for UDFA’s. If both ended up on the PS, at least one (if not both) will likely be grabbed by other teams by the end of the season.

Defensive Backs

For the CB’s it’s down to M. White vs Moore vs Dockery. I’m a fan of Dockery but he has been out played by the “two Joshes” as well as Captain and Florence. However, I think he might be the odd man out. White is still a young project that can be stashed on the PS. Moore has shown to have good instincts but hasn’t been given a big amount of play time; but I think he squeezes in to the 53.

The safeties have to be the weakest part of our defense right now. Godfrey continues to whiff on runs and Mitchell can be quite random. To back them up, it’s down to Nakamura vs Jones vs Campbell. Campbell’s injury to his hamstring might determine his roster status. Colin Jones was traded for last year and is suppose to be a special team’s ace, but injuries kept him off the field. Naka is Naka, but he is likely to make the squad (with his fully guaranteed contract) and Jones has a chance to get in as well. I think Campbell might be PS eligible and if so should revert there.

Linebackers

Keek, Beas, TD, Blackburn, Senn and Klein are sure to make the 53. Jason Williams of the best of the remaining 3 on the 75 man roster. I think he likely makes the squad because of Beas & TD injury concerns, but he is not a sure lock.

Conclusion

This will really come down to special teams play for those who make it. I think Colin Jones vs Jason Williams could be the final 53rd spot battle but we typically already keep more DB’s than LB’s so if we keep Jones, we’d have to be comfortable with only 6 LB’s. Jimmy Clausen will also be considered as he likely will bring nothing to the team where but his contract is 95% guaranteed. I would be happy to part ways with him even though it likely results in signing another person that won’t dress on game day. Look for the results to be posted early to late afternoon tomorrow.

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