Top 20 Panthers of 2012: #17 DT Ron Edwards

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 17: Running back Adrian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans dives in for a touchdown over defensive tackle Ron Edwards #95 of the Kasnsas City Chiefs at Reliant Stadium on October 17 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

DT Ron Edwards is a ten year NFL veteran that was the Panthers key free agent signing in 2011 who was expected to anchor the middle of the Panthers defensive line. Here is James Dator's initial reaction to the signing in July of 2011:

While maybe not the splash we were looking for, the Carolina Panthers added much needed veteran depth at DT with the signing today of former Kansas City Chiefs' DT Ron Edwards. The 32 year old Edwards adds some much needed size to the DL as he brings his 6'3", 315 lb frame to help anchor the center of the line. He started the last two seasons for the Chiefs as their 3-4 NT, and space eater. This will allow for flexibility in the 4-3 and 3-4 sets Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott look to employ here. On the surface he seems a lot like the player Sione Fua will become, and appears to be a perfect mentor type to bring along the rookie.

Unfortunately Edwards tore his triceps in the Panthers very first training camp practice and went on IR immediately. It was a great idea at the time but fate can be cruel.

Entering 2012 Edwards should be fully healed and ready to hit the field. At a soon to be 33 years of age though we should expect to see him in the rotation on early downs. Cyberjag explains why Edwards, if he can actually play this year, will make a solid imapct on the d-line:

That's why [2011] it's so important to have a veteran presence in the interior of the line. Charles Johnson can be the leader, but someone's got to be the brains down there--the guy who tells everyone where the opening is going to be and what the offense is likely to give them. That role is ideal for an old veteran, and a player like Edwards has seen a lot.

Edwards spent five years in Buffalo and then five in KC. The word I got on Edwards from KC fans this time last year was to paraphrase "Big Ron was a solid starter and contributor". This is exactly what you want from a 4-3 NG so it makes me hopeful the run defense will make a big jump in 2012.

I am anxious to see Edwards when training camp kicks off and certainly one of the top 20 Panthers to watch as this season unfolds. Hopefully he will not only make it through TC but the entire season as well.

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