The Carolina Panthers fourth preseason game on Thursday night is mostly a scrimmage featuring backup players. But for these three Panthers players it could be the difference between suiting up on Sundays or simply practicing with the team.
Running Back Brandon Wegher – Last season’s Carolina Panthers preseason phenom again finds himself fighting for a roster spot. Wegher has not had the same electrifying performance this year, although that has not been completely his fault. Wegher has been stifled behind a sup par backup offensive line for most of his snaps. Often times, he has needed to dodge a defender the moment he touches the ball.
“I just haven’t really had the opportunities that I really think I deserve,” Wegher said recently. “It is what it is. I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to be a team player.” Wegher has a right to feel frustrated at this point. Head coach Ron Rivera continues to say Wegher has not had opportunities, which begs the question why Rivera has not given him any?
The good news for Wegher is that just yesterday Dave Gettleman named him as a player that has been a pleasant surprise. “He’s been unbelievable on (special) teams” Gettleman said. Wegher has shined when given the opportunity to play with first string players, if only on special teams. Maybe one day we will get to see if that is the case on offense as well.
Linebacker Jeremy Cash – I have been talking about Jeremy Cash for quite a while now, ever since Carolina Panthers OTA’s back in May. Although he was undersized, Cash was a player I tagged as one that could make the team as an undrafted free agent. Why? Simple. Cash is a football player. The Panthers could have plugged him in at safety or linebacker and he would have competed. Heck, put him in at running back or tight end, and I would still bet on him. Some guys just have “it”, and Cash is one of them.
Now that Cash has put on weight, he is able to make the plays his mind was wanting to make but body was unable to early on in training camp. The result has been solid play not only on special teams, but also with the second string defense. A strong performance on Thursday may keep Cash in the Bank (of America).
Tight End Beau Sandland – Sandland is in danger of becoming Dave Gettleman’s first draft pick to be cut in the year he was drafted. If the Panthers choose to keep three tight ends, Sandland is the odd man out. Olsen, Dickson, and Simonson are all locks to make the team.
Rookie tight ends do not make the roster based on their ability to catch passes, but in their ability to block. Earlier this week undrafted free agent Braxton Deaver was let go for this very reason Although Deaver showed great promise in the passing game, his blocking was not good enough to keep around another week.
Beau Sandland still has an opportunity to impress, but he needs to do so in the H-Back position. Moving into the offensive backfield and blocking for the ball carrier needs to be his bread and butter. If he can show competency in that area against the Steelers, he may be able to carve himself out a roster spot. If not, expect him to be on the Panthers practice squad in 2016.