Panthers OTAs: First team secondary looks a lot like 2012

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The Carolina Panthers are staying close to home, despite adding multiple players through free agency.

Trying to glean too much information from OTAs is a fool's pursuit. New players are trying to learn the playbook, while veterans normally get their seniority bump -- resulting in more snaps early. That being said, it's interesting to see how the first-team secondary has been lining up thus far. Conventional wisdom said that Drayton Florence would be a shoo-in to start, and Mike Mitchell would challenge for the starting strong safety job -- but that doesn't look to be the case early on.

According to Joe Person, the Panthers used the following:

CB1: Josh Thomas

CB2: Josh Norman

SS: D.J. Campbell

FS: Charles Godfrey

Nickel: D.J. Moore

Despite his lackluster 2012 season, fans have been overlooking Josh Norman's importance to the long-term future of the secondary. His late-season benching has been revealed as a product of hitting the rookie wall, and late-season experimentation -- rather than being in the dog house, as so many posited.

The two Josh's represent some of the Panthers' best upside at the position, but it's a little disheartening to see James Dockery not get more opportunities. He showed flashes in limited time, but it's understandable, given there's no guarantee that will translate into full time starting potential.

Having D.J. Campbell get the lion's share is the right move. He may not be the future of the strong safety position, but was a pleasant surprise as the season went on. Campbell isn't a player who'll generate a lot of turnovers, or delivery highlight-reel hits, but he's a smart and reliable tackler. That's a welcome change, given the inconsistencies the Panthers' have had.

It remains to be seen what Captain Munnerlyn's role will be. Right now he's been sidelined with an abdominal injury, meaning it's all on Spartanburg for him to try and re-gain the job. Moore has the ability to generate a lot of turnovers, but Munnerlyn showed a knack for it too. This will be one of training camp's most interesting battles.

Dave Gettleman has harped on the ideal of playing the best players, while developing their young talent. The secondary unit used in OTAs is rich with upside, but lacking experience -- yet again. The team will hope Norman and Thomas can be enough, while we wait to see what roles Florence, Munnerlyn, and Mitchell will play.

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