Competition at an All-Time High
In crafting his roster and molding it to his preferences, General Manager Dave Gettleman brought in players via free agency and the draft that are able to compete for playing time right now. In years past, under John Fox, training camp seemed to be a time where the usual suspects in the starting roles got into playing shape knowing their jobs were secured while the bottom half of the roster and depth guys tried to splash an earn a roster spot. These days are long gone.
Head Coach Ron Rivera has shown a tendency to make players earn their playing time. Unlike Fox whom often seemed loyal to certain players almost to a fault, Rivera has experimented with different lineups...particularly in the secondary. The days of struggling players getting the nod week in and week out are over and I believe this will be more noticeable this season as we have brought in experienced veterans at positions of need and greatly improved the bottom half our roster. Dave Gettleman, in one of his earliest press conferences with the Panthers, said this was one of his primary goals. I believe he has succeeded and am cautiously optimistic going forward. The free agents brought in coupled with the five players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft have greatly improved the roster overall even if a select few are starting week 1. Here is an inside look at some of the great camp battles that will be heating up in the following months and especially on the fields of Spartanburg:
The wide receiver position will likely be the biggest battle of camp. I suspect we place six guys on the active 53 man roster. Excluding the any UDFAs, there are currently ten receivers on the roster. I'd say only four of them are locks going forward.
Next up, the secondary. Between safety and cornerback excluding UDFAs, there are currently thirteen players on the roster. Corners are listed first. I could see another safety added in free agency, potentially.
In Spartanburg I will have my eye on possibly the most important camp-competition that is essential to this team's success: Guard. I suspect we may bring in another veteran with some of our remaining salary cap. A name to keep in mind is Brandon Moore.
After our first two selections in this year's draft, the competition to get in on our defensive tackle will be worth a watch. We know several of these guys are locks to make the roster:
It is no secret the linebacker position has several locks as well heading into the season. It is a strength of this roster but we cannot keep them all.
Carolina surprised everyone by selecting Oregon running back Kenjon Barner in the sixth round of the draft. Running back has long been a strength on this roster and this year it will be no different. Mike Tolbert is a lock at fullback. I see us keeping four going into the season and we all know the locks to make the final roster:
Final Word/TLDR: Gettleman is looking to improve the depth and bottom half of this roster. I believe with the pieces in place he will be successful in just that. Camp competitions should be exciting and the best man will win out and earn a spot. All season long players will be battling in practices to take one another's job and that will improve this team on its own. I really believe our special teams will see great improvements this season if Adams makes the roster along with Barner, and they both are taken under the wing of Ginn. Senn will lead the special teams unit and I am anxious to see Klein out there with him laying the boom. When this team is trimmed down to the final roster of 53, I am confident the 53 will be much better at the top...and throughout the roster to the very bottom. This team can compete right now and competition at some key positions will bring out the best in the 2013 Carolina Panthers. We are due for a healthy, and winning season and if the coaching staff has grown and bettered themselves...we are destined to do some damage.