Analysis: Round 2 of Carolina Panthers projected 53-man roster

jperson@charlotteobserver.comAugust 24, 2013 

The Panthers made their first wave of cuts Saturday, three days before they were required to trim the roster from 90 to 75 players.

There were no surprises among the nine waived: fourth-string QB Colby Cameron, P Jordan Gay, CB Nick Hixson, K Morgan Lineberry, WR Dale Moss, DE Louis Nzegwu, LB Ryan Rau, S Ricardo Silva and G Justin Wells.

The Panthers also waived/injured three players who sustained season-ending injuries: T Bruce Campbell (shoulder), FB Mike Zordich (knee) and WR Kealoha Pilares (knee). Pilares tore a ligament in his right knee returning the opening kickoff last week against Baltimore.

If no one claims them, the three will revert to the Panthers’ injured reserve list.

Carolina has three more cuts/moves to make before Tuesday’s deadline and must set itsfinal, 53-man roster by Saturday.

For the second week in a row, the Observer projects the 53-player roster. (Changes from last week’s projection noted in bold.)

Quarterbacks (2)

On the roster: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson

Off: Jimmy Clausen

In Panthers GM Dave Gettleman’s final five years with the Giants, they kept only two quarterbacks – Eli Manning and David Carr (in four of those seasons). With injuries making roster decisions difficult at other positions, don’t be surprised to see the Panthers cut ties with Clausen, their second-round draft pick in 2010.

Running backs (5)

On: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart (PUP list), Mike Tolbert, Richie Brockel, Kenjon Barner, Armond Smith

Off: Tauren Poole

The Panthers have not said anything definitive on Stewart, who is scheduled to visit team doctor Robert Anderson this week for an evaluation on his surgically repaired right ankle. Considering Stewart still is not doing much running, it seems likely he’ll open the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Receivers (6)

On: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., Armanti Edwards, David Gettis, Domenik Hixon

Off: Joe Adams, Taulib Ikharo, Brenton Bersin, James Shaw

After several encouraging performances by the players competing for the No. 3 receiving spot early in the preseason, the group took a step backward last week. Hixon, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, needs to play in the exhibition finale against Pittsburgh or risk getting cut.

Tight ends (3)

On: Greg Olsen, Ben Hartsock, Brandon Williams

Off: Dominique Curry, Zack Pianalto

A foot injury to Hartsock could complicate things, although Brockel’s versatility as a fullback and tight end gives the Panthers a little flexibility. If Hartsock’s plantar fasciitis doesn’t improve, Curry could make the team.

Offensive linemen (9)

On: T Jordan Gross, T Byron Bell, G Garry Williams, G Amini Silatolu, C Ryan Kalil, G/C Jeff Byers, G Edmund Kugbila, G Chris Scott, Free Agent TBD

Off: Nate Chandler, Garrett Chisolm, Tori Mobley, Brian Folkerts, Patrick Brown, Hayworth Hicks

The Panthers are banking on signing a veteran free agent before Week 1, although several other teams also are looking for offensive line help. Former Panthers lineman Travelle Wharton’s ability to play guard and tackle seems to be just what this team needs.

Defensive linemen (9)

On: DE Charles Johnson, DE Greg Hardy, DT Dwan Edwards, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Kawann Short, DE Frank Alexander, DE Mario Addison, DT Colin Cole, DT Sione Fua

Off: Frank Kearse, Casey Walker, Craig Roh, Wes Horton

Rookies Lotulelei and Short made their presence felt last week at Baltimore. Fua is a smart player who is best suited for a reserve role, while Kearse hasn’t been heard from in a couple of weeks.

Linebackers (7)

On: Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Chase Blackburn, A.J. Klein, Jordan Senn, Jason Williams

Off: Doug Hogue, Ben Jacobs

Though he didn’t make a huge impact, Beason’s return from microfracture surgery last week gave the defense an emotional lift. Williams seems to be battling Hogue for a spot, although both could be left off, depending on what coach Ron Rivera and Gettleman do with the defensive line and secondary.

Defensive backs (9)

On: CB Captain Munnerlyn, CB Drayton Florence, S Charles Godfrey, S Mike Mitchell, CB Josh Thomas, CB Josh Norman, CB D.J. Moore, S Haruki Nakamura, S Colin Jones

Off: D.J. Campbell, James Dockery (injured), Melvin White, Robert Lester, Anderson Russell

Jones is the fastest player on the coverage teams, though he’s not in the mix at safety. Dockery was having a good preseason before thumb surgery hurt his chances of sticking.

Specialists (3)

On: K Graham Gano, P Brad Nortman, LS J.J. Jansen

Off: None.

The performances of Gano and Nortman basically rendered the kicking and punting competitions moot, leading to the cuts of Gay and Lineberry on Saturday.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson

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