During a five-day span this week, the Panthers will go from 89 to 53 players (OL Edmund Kugbila is on injured reserve). The first cuts come Tuesday, when NFL teams must get to 75 players. But the big day will be Saturday, when the Panthers will see if they can find help – a kick returner? – from other teams’ scrap heaps. Here’s my latest projection, with changes from last week noted in bold:
Comment: Joe Webb has had a strong preseason. But he’s out of practice squad eligibility, and it’s likely the team only keeps two quarterbacks.
Comment: There wasn’t much running room for this group at New England. Tolbert says he wants to play in the final exhibition at Pittsburgh.
Comment: Kealoha Pilares and Tiquan Underwood needed a big kick return vs. the Patriots, but never got a chance because of touchbacks. Pilares caught a 30-yard pass from Webb in the final two minutes.
Comment: This has quietly become one of the Panthers’ deepest positions. Williams showed off his speed in making a touchdown-saving tackle after an Anderson interception vs. New England.
Comment: The line’s dealing with a couple of nagging injuries. Unless a young guy steps up, the Panthers might need to look for outside help to improve their depth.
Comment: Several backup ends saw early action against the Patriots; none generated much pressure vs. Tom Brady. (Note: Frank Alexander is suspended the first four games and won’t count vs. the roster.)
Comment: Klein gave up a touchdown when he was slow to react to a Patriots’ wheel route. Blackburn has been bothered by a back injury.
Comment: Benwikere started at nickel over Godfrey and had three tackles vs. Patriots. He also managed the only pass breakup as Brady took apart the Panthers’ defense.
Comment: Backup Jordan Gay averaged 54 yards on two punts, with a net of 48.5. That could get him a couple of workouts.