The Carolina Panthers begin training camp in just a few days, and this year’s vacation in Spartanburg will feature a few interesting roster battles as the coaching staff works on setting their depth chart for the season.
Without further ado, here are three position battles to keep an eye on as training camp progresses over the next several weeks.
The Panthers lost Andrew Norwell to free agency this offseason, so they’ll have to find a suitable replacement during training camp. Amini Silatolu is—for unknown and inexplicable reasons—penciled in as the starter, but there are several players who will be competing to unseat him from his spot in the lineup. The Panthers signed free agent Jeremiah Sirles to a one-year contract, and also brought in approximately 73 undrafted free agents to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster. If none of those options work out, Taylor Moton is also a candidate for the job, though the coaching staff would probably like to keep him at right tackle as a potential replacement for Daryl Williams if he leaves in free agency when his contract expires.
It’s no secret that wide receiver depth was one of the biggest issues Carolina faced last year. Cam Newton was carrying an offense that saw Kaelin Clay and Brenton Bersin getting meaningful time at receiver. The depth chart will look different this year thanks to some offseason work by general manager Marty Hurney, who brought in veterans Jarius Wright (free agency) and Torrey Smith (trade), and drafted Maryland standout D.J. Moore in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Adding those three players to the trio of Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel and Damiere Byrd gives the Panthers a solid corps of receivers for Newton to use to his advantage this season.
While there won’t be much of a battle for who makes the roster this year at wide receiver, there should be an interesting competition for who takes the top spots on the depth chart. Funchess is penciled in as the No. 1 receiver right now, but can Moore take that spot from him? Who will win the youth vs. experience battle for the No. 3 and No. 4 spot? Can Samuel and Byrd take snaps away from Smith and Wright? It may not be as exciting of a battle as ‘who will make the roster?’, but it should be fun to watch nonetheless.
One of the biggest roster spots on the team is vacant this year after the Panthers decided to part ways with Derek Anderson. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that Cam Newton will remain the starter at quarterback, but there are two guys competing for the backup job in training camp this year—Garrett Gilbert and Taylor Heinicke. UDFA Kyle Allen could also be in the mix as well. Given that Newton doesn’t play much in the preseason, we should get some entertainment from the backup quarterback battle that will take place in the Panthers’ four preseason games. At least it gives us something to look forward to in those games, right?
What do you think, Panthers fans? Are there any other roster battles you’re looking forward to seeing? Which one of these do you think is the most important? (Cough... left guard... cough.) Share your thoughts with us!
Oh, and we’re just two days away... can you feel it yet? Football’s almost here y’all!