Now that the Carolina Panthers have finished their first week of training camp, I thought I would take a moment and run down how the roster is shaping up. Keep in mind this is an organic list and will change as players rise and fall in the ranks.
Quarterbacks (3) – Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb. The Panthers will still hang on to Joe Webb. Webb’s most important role comes from his leadership on special teams. Well worth the roster spot.
Running backs (3) – Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne. I am now leaning towards Artis-Payne getting the nod over Fozzy Whitaker should the Carolina Panthers decide to keep only three ball carriers. Artis-Payne has come on strong as of late and has earned playing time with the ones and twos. Artis-Payne can backup both Stewart and McCaffrey in most formations. I can’t say the same for Whitaker.
Fullback (1) Darrell Young. Alex Armah will likely be a practice squad addition this season. He is just too raw a player to have on the regular roster. Perhaps next year.
Offensive line (10) Matt Kalil, Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Daryl Williams, Taylor Moton, Chris Scott, Tyler Larson, Amini Silatolu, Gino Gradkowski. Tyler Larsen is a name to keep an eye on here. Larsen looks like the future of the center position but can also fill in at guard. I have to think if he doesn’t come into play when thinking about the prospect of Andrew Norwell leaving.
Wide Receivers (5) Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel, Russell Shepard, Damiere Byrd. This is a tough call. My gut tells me that last spot is up for grabs between Byrd, Duke, and Ross. All three can provide a deep threat and all three have looked impressive so far in training camp. I am giving the nod to Byrd for now, but this could change especially with strong preseason performances by Duke or Ross.
Tight Ends (3) Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Chris Manhertz. Manhertz is having a heck of a camp for the most part and is clearly the best option on the field for the third tight end position. The only question at this point is if he can push Ed Dickson for that number two spot.
Defensive line (9) Charles Johnson, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Julius Peppers, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, Daeshon Hall, Kyle Love, Wes Horton. Good golly miss molly, is this a stout unit. It almost makes me feel sorry for opposing offenses. Almost.
Linebackers (7) Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Jeremy Cash, Ben Jacobs, Jared Norris. Many fans want to see Ben Boulware on this list, and it could happen. The problem is he is a middle linebacker with two other middle linebackers already a lock to make the team. The only way Boulware claims a jersey is by being a standout special teams player in all four preseason games.
Corners (5) James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Captain Munnerlyn, Corn Elder, Cole Luke. Yes, I have Cole Luke making the regular roster. He has looked as good as any rookie defensive back I have seen in recent memory at this point. Putting him on the regular roster may be a but premature, but I am going with my gut here.
Safeties (4) Kurt Coleman, Mike Adams, Dean Marlowe, Colin Jones. I want to swap out Jones and McCray here, but I am just not ready to yet. Safety is a position that is still so thin, adding a free agent once cut downs are made is still an option.
SPECIAL TEAMS ( 3) Graham Gano, Andy Lee, JJ Jansen. There is no question that Gano is winning the kicker battle in training camp at this point. He has looked as good as he ever has. As his confidence builds, I suspect he will only get better.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.