Now that Carolina Panthers training camp is well underway I thought I would take a moment and update my roster projection. As always, changes needed to be made due to injury and players elevating their game in training camp. The following is a fluid list and will likely change slightly before it is all said and done. It only reflects how things likely stand as of right now.
Quarterbacks (2) Cam Newton, Garrett Gilbert
I am convinced that Garrett Gilbert is the Carolina Panthers backup quarterback. Sure, the Panthers won’t win many games with him, but were they really going to with Derek Anderson either? Nope. It is Cam or bust. The entire season hinges on his health. It is a good thing the Panthers have a stud offensive line, right? Insert troll meme here.
Running Backs (3) CJ Anderson, Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne
I would be shocked if this is not the group when all is said and done. However, if Kenjon Barner can really have a good preseason, he could overtake Cameron Artis-Payne. Barner has a run style closer to McCaffrey and Alex Armah could always fill in as an emergency power back should Anderson be injured.
Fullback (1) Alex Armah
This guy right here looks to be an integral part of the Carolina Panthers offense in 2018. Look for him in all phases of the offense and on special teams. Compared to this time last year, his stock has risen 1000%. Preseason should tell us just how much he will be used with the starting unit.
Wide Receivers (6) Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright, DJ Moore, Damiere Byrd
This is probably the best group of receivers the Carolina Panthers have put together in recent memory. They lack in size a little bit, but we all witnesses first hand that size doesn’t mean that much. The Panthers instead are going with speed, and plenty of it. Get open quickly, get the ball out quickly, keep Cam healthy. That is the theme of the season, and it is long overdue.
Tight Ends (3) Greg Olsen, Chris Manhertz, Ian Thomas
Ian Thomas is really showing out in training camp. At this point it would not shock me at all to see him take over the injured Chris Manhertz number two spot immediately. Thomas has caught everything thrown his way and could be the steal of the draft. I am trying hard to temper my excitement and expectations, but I cannot for much longer.
Offensive Line (10) Matt Kalil, Taylor Moton, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Greg Van Roten, Amini Silatolu, Tyler Lawson, Jeremiah Sirles, Blaine Clausell, Free Agent Guard
I see the Carolina Panthers signing a free agent guard once cuts start to happen across the league. There is just no way around it. The numerous rookies brought in don’t look worthy of a regular roster spot at this point, at least two landing on the practice squad is likely. A stop gap is needed in case starter Amini Silotolu goes down. Expect a signing before the season starts.
Defensive Line (9) Julius Peppers, Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Kyle Love, Daeshon Hall, Marquis Haynes, Wes Horton
I want to find a spot for Bryan Cox Jr here, but the numbers just don’t allow it unless the Panthers decide on five wide receivers or only two tight ends. Now that I think of it, with Alex Armah sometimes lining up as a tight end, that could happen.
Linebackers (6) Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Andre Smith, Ben Jacobs
I am interested to see how the Panthers deal with the loss of Thomas Davis to suspension at the start of the year. I suspect we will see plenty of sub packages. I like what I have seen out of Andre Smith so far. I think he makes the team over Jared Norris. Look for Smith to play an important role on special teams this season.
Corners (6) James Bradberry, Donte Jackson, Captain Munnerlyn, Kevon Seymour, Corn Elder, Ladarius Gunter
The loss of Crockell for the season was a blow to the roster, but with how Donte Jackson has looked lately Crockell may have not been a starter to begin with. The chip on Jackson’s shoulder is matched only by his speed. If he can quickly pick up the intricacies of the position throughout preseason he could overtake Seymour as the day one starter opposite James Bradberry.
Safeties (4) Mike Adams, Da’Norris Searcy, Rashaan Gaulden, Dezmen Southward
This may be the year Colin Jones is no longer a Carolina Panther. Southward has had a really good camp and would be an upgrade at the position. I am going with him here, but I am not certain. A voice in the back of my head says Jones plays that buffalo nickel position and with Thomas Davis out for the start of the season Jones may be more valuable. We will see.
Special Teams (3) Graham Gano, Michael Palardy, JJ JansenAgree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.