Here's Marty Hurney explaining as best he can why the Panther brass decided to retain certain players over others. In just about every case the Panthers decided to keep the younger player over the veteran, a decision that runs counter to other decisions John Fox has made in the past. For example, at back-up safety the Panthers decided to keep 2nd year player Quinton Teal over veteran FA signeee Terrence Holt:
"That was extremely difficult," general manager Marty Hurney said. "Terrence was a guy who came in and had great respect from the players; he brought veteran leadership (and) veteran experience; he played well."
Other factors, however, worked against Holt and in favor of three-year veteran Nate Salley and second-year player Quinton Teal, both of whom landed the backup safety positions.
"At those two reserve safety spots, it comes down to safety plus special teams, and we thought that Nate Salley and Quinton Teal both did a good job on special teams, and really, they're two good young players for us," Hurney said.
The phrase you keep hearing about the younger players is "upside". In many cases such as that of Stanley McClover, the Panthers probably feel they have seen the best McClover has to offer. Though a player like Hilee Taylor may be less expereinced and "raw" they still don;t know how much he will develop. Taylor is built very much like another Taylor, twinkle-toes Jason Taylor (no relation).
Hilee Taylor's potential also swung the pendulum in his favor over McClover. The speedy 6-foot-2, 250-pound rookie logged a pair of sacks in August, sharing the team's preseason sack lead among defensive linemen with fellow North Carolina alumnus Julius Peppers.
"We just thought Hilee showed some upside," Hurney said. "Stanley played very well. It was a close decision; we went with Hilee because we think he will continue to improve.
"They both have pass-rush abilities. Hilee is probably a little bit more raw, but he continued to improve in training camp and had a pretty good preseason, so we made the decision to keep him over Stanley."
Another late round pick earning a spot was G Mackenzy Bernadeau, I guy I thought would get cut for sure. He beat out Milfred Brown, a free agent signee the Panthers agree played well.
"We think that Mackenzy is going to be a very good player," Hurney said. "He improved the entire training camp. We thought he played well the last preseason game against the Steelers. He's a guy who has good size and good movement. We thought that he earned a spot.
"It was a difficult decision to left Milford Brown because came in and he did everything that was asked him and played well, but we could only keep so many numbers there, and it ended up we kept nine (linemen) and had to let Milford go, and that was a very hard decision."
I'm surprised that we only kept 9 linemen with only three listed at guard. That is deceiving though as both Geoff Hangartner and Jeremy Bridges have experience playing guard.
WR Dominique Thompson has to be relieved that he made the team but he shouldn't get to comfortable. The Panthers admit they will be scouring the waiver wire for kick return help and Thompson may well be the first to go if an option becomes available.
"Again, we're going to look everywhere," Hurney said. "You just don't know what's going to come up. Obviously that's what we're going to do tonight and tomorrow and that obviously will be one of those spots you look at."
My hope is that we stick with what we got and see how it goes. I want to see J-Stew returning kicks and hopefully Ryne Robinson will be back in time for game 1.