Aug 26, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Carolina Panthers safety Reggie Smith (31) returns a Tim Tebow (not pictured) interception during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Jets 17-12. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
As we discussed on Cat Scratch radio last night the Panthers depth chart on Panthers.com did have a few changes in light of the 1st roster cut down to 75. Here's a summary of the changes and/or position battles that remain undecided going into the final preseason game and roster cut down to 53.
Starting with the offense:
WR - I see four WR spots not counting Joe Adams and Keoloha Pilares who will make the roster as special teamers. The first three go to Smitty, LaFell and newcomer Louis Murphy even though the depth chart lists Seyi Ajirotutu ahead of Murphy. I see the fourth and final spot being a battle between the inconsistent Tutu and the unproven Armanti Edwards. Edwards has played well during camp and in his limited action while 'Tutu' has shown some stone hands way too often. Yet it might still be Tutu's size and blocking ability that wins out. My thought it Edwards gets the nod.
OL - The Panthers must decide of they need 8 or 9 offensive linemen and the answer to that question will help decide the position question after this one. If they go with 9 then that is one less spot in the backfield which I will go to in a minute. The first question is who will be #8 that backs up the guard position? Right now the depth chart list Hangartner as the back-up center meaning their is no pressure to go with a G/C guy, though I think that is the way they might go. If Piggy can back-up center then that may allow jumbo guard Bryant Browning to be the guy, who is a nice addition at the goal line. Otherwise it will probably by G/C Mike Pollack. Other outside options include Jeff Byers or Zack Williams.
If the Panthers decide to keep 9 OL then it might impact Rickie Brockel's spot which I will discuss, after the jump...
TE - I have no reason to assume the Panthers won't keep their three TE's in Olsen, Hartsock and Barnidge. I also assume they will keep three RBs and Mike Tolbert. If the Panthers only keep 8 OL then leaves a spot for versatile special teamer Richie Brockel to make the 53. The kid is a gamer so my money is on him.
DB - With Brandon Hogan out of the picture its a little easier to predict which way this one goes. The depth chart shows Josh Thomas ahead of Darius Butler and I don't think that is some motivational ploy at Butler. I'm thinking the Panthers keep 10 DBs, 5 CBs and 5 S with Butler and Jonathan Nelson being the odd guys out. The CBs would be Gamble, Munnerlyn, Norman, Thomas and Stanford. The safeties would be Godfrey, Hakamura, Martin, Smith & Pugh