A couple of young players made big moves against the Chiefs to give the coaches and front office something to think about (we’re talking about you, Fozzy). Nagging injuries have cost some players on the bubble valuable playing time with half the exhibition season complete. Here’s our latest projection, with changes from last week noted in bold:
Quarterbacks (2): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson.
Comment: With his 16-yard touchdown throw to Brenton Bersin, Anderson showed again why he’s one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league.
Running backs (4): DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Fozzy Whittaker.
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Comment: Whittaker hit the holes hard and ran with authority against the Chiefs, unlike Kenjon Barner. Whittaker’s return skills also will help him.
Wide receivers (6): Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Kelvin Benjamin, Brenton Bersin, Kealoha Pilares, Free agent TBD.
Comment: Pilares, plagued by injuries the past two seasons, sat out the Chiefs exhibition with an ankle injury. Tavarres King dropped the only pass thrown to him and came up limping.
Tight ends (4): Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Richie Brockel, Brandon Williams.
Comment: Olsen was sidelined with a calf injury that is not considered serious. It took four Kansas City defenders to corral Williams after his 31-yard catch, and they never did get him on the ground.
Offensive line (9): Byron Bell, Nate Chandler, Trai Turner, Amini Silatolu, Ryan Kalil, Garry Williams, Chris Scott, Fernando Velasco, Derek Dennis.
Comment: Dennis, 6-3 and 325 pounds, is a big guy who would give the Panthers another guard if they keep nine linemen.
Defensive line (9): Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Dwan Edwards, Colin Cole, Kony Ealy, Mario Addison, Wes Horton.
Comment: Frank Alexander, who’s suspended for the first four games, was Ron Rivera’s MVP of training camp.
Linebackers (6): Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, A.J. Klein, Chase Blackburn, Jason Williams, D.J. Smith.
Comment: Klein had supplanted Blackburn at outside linebacker even before Blackburn injured his back last week.
Defensive backs (10): Antoine Cason, Melvin White, Bene’ Benwikere, Charles Godfrey, Josh Norman, Roman Harper, Thomas DeCoud, Colin Jones, Robert Lester, Anderson Russell.
Comment: Norman’s jawing at Dwayne Bowe clearly irked Rivera; Norman shrugged it off as no big deal. That type of disconnect could put Norman in jeopardy come cut time.
Specialists (3): Graham Gano, Brad Nortman, J.J. Jansen.
Comment: Gano was perfect on four 33-yard, experimental extra points; Nortman uncorked a 74-yard punt, with a 54-yard net.