Week 1 Recap
Joe Webb - 4th Season - QB - Stock Rising
Our first player to watch in my week 1 list, Webb helped his case tremendously with a very strong outing against Buffalo. Webb played for the entire 2nd half and acquitted himself well, going 16-28 for 180 yards and a very exciting 31 yard TD to Brandon Williams which gave the Panthers a chance to get back into the game with just under 2 minutes left. Unfortunately, after the successful onside kick, Marcus Lucas bobbled away the last second comeback attempt and Webb's storybook ending was ruined. Make no mistake, the veteran signal caller has a long climb ahead of him if he wants to convince the Panthers to hold on to 3 QBs entering the regular season, but another strong showing could do just that, or at the very least make it a hard decision. Derek Anderson isn't getting any younger, Webb is not practice squad eligible, and isn't like dependable QBs with similar skillsets to Cam Newton grow on trees, so this could be a very intriguing situation going forward...
Fozzy Whittaker - 3rd Season - RB - Stock Falling
You hate to read too much into a single preseason contest, but the fact that Fozzy didn't get a single carry is a little telling. He did have 2 receptions for 18 yards, but with Jonathan Stewart being cleared to return and Darrin Reaves seemingly earning more touches at this point, it kind of feels like the writing is on the wall for ol' Foswhitt. Wocka-wocka...
Richie Brockel - 4th Season - FB/TE - Stock Rising
Ultimately, Richie is a glue guy. The coaches seem to love him, and he will literally do anything they ask him to just to see some field time. His blocking ability and versatility to play FB, TE, and special teams are going to make him very hard to cut. He was getting rave reviews over the last two days of camp, apparently manhandling Panther defenders in blocking drills. I just get the feeling this guy isn't going anywhere, barring an injury of course.
Tiquan Underwood - 6th Season - WR - Stock Falling
In a game in which Panthers' QBs spread 22 completions around to 13 different receivers, Underwood had to try not to be involved. Well, if that was his goal, then it was one of the few things he has been successful at since donning the blue and black. The coaches continue to act like he has a place on this roster, but I can't for the life of me figure out why. No versatility, terrible hands, and a surprisingly competitive group of receivers around him has already made Tiquan expendable in my eyes. If he doesn't have a transcendent performance this week, I can;t see any way he cracks the 75 man roster.
Charles Godfrey - 7th Season - CB - Stock Even
Being one of the most veteran defenders on the team, Godfrey is going to be given enough rope to hang himself with over the next couple of weeks. He was beat deep on a key play in the game against Buffalo, but his leadership and communication skills seem to still have the coaches' favor... for now. To this writer, Godfrey doesn't look like he will ever be much of a playmaker again, but his versatility will be key. Josh Thomas' struggles in game 1 were a boon to Godfrey's chances, but he really needs to step it up if he wants to be a meaningful part of the defense moving forward.
Kenjon Barner - 2nd Season - RB
If Barner wants to make this team, he needs to really step it up in the return game. At this point, I will confidently say that he is not an NFL caliber RB. On paper, his dimensions are comparable to some of the all-time greats, but he has the uncanny ability to look like a child amongst men on the field. It doesn't help that he runs timidly and lacks great vision. The Panthers have one of the worst kick and punt return situations in the NFL, and that could be Barner's saving grace. But he really needs to seize every opportunity and make every touch count from this point on, otherwise he could easily lose this spot to Darrin Reaves, the rookie UDFA who has been playing much hungrier than Barner to date.
Every receiver not named Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, or Jason Avant
A position group which looked like it could be a dumpster-fire in April has transformed into a surprisingly competitive group come August. Dave Gettleman's nabbing of Tavarres King from the Broncos in 2013 is beginning to look like highway robbery, and Brenton Bersin's rise has been a great camp story. Kealoha Pilares brings more versatility than the others as a potential returner, Philly Brown has emerged as a shifty playmaker, and Marcus Lucas has elite dimensions and has shown some ability. I can't see the Panthers carrying more than 6 WRs on the regular season roster, with 5 being a more likely number. Something is going to have to give.
For what it is worth, my prediction is 6. Benjamin, Cotchery, Avant, King, Bersin, and either Brown or Pilares. I have absolutely zero faith in Kenjon Barner at this point, and Bene Benwikere and Antoine Cason are possible starters in the secondary, so I think our primary return man this season will be either Pilares or Brown (terrifying, I know) and believe we will try to stash Marcus Lucas on the practice squad for a year. I also feel like we've invested 3 years in developing Bersin and want to see what we have in him.
Stick a fork in them
Matt Blanchard - 2nd Season - QB
He never had a chance to make the 1st cut to begin with, but even if he had his performance against Buffalo would have sealed his fate. Just awful...
Alex Hall - 1st Season - DE
The CFL product has not really stood out one way or the other throughout camp, and the Panthers are absolutely stacked at the position. With the top 5 spots essentially locked in and 2nd year man Wes Horton playing very well, it just comes down to a numbers game for Hall.
Jordan Gay - 2nd Season - P
Obligatory specialist reference here. You knew he was gone, I knew he was gone, but at least he gets to have his name memorialized on the internet as an actual member of the Carolina Panthers. (You're welcome, buddy!)
Of course, there are plenty more on the roster whose fates are as much as sealed, but I tried to stick with the most notable for this week. So what do you all think? Sound off in the comments and let us know which fringe players you will be most excited to watch out for this week against Kansas City! And as always...