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Panthers 2019 season opener countdown: 32 days to go

With 32 days left until the Panthers season opener, let’s check in with No. 32, safety Cole Luke.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 32 is currently worn by Carolina Panthers safety Cole Luke. Here’s a look at his potential contribution in Carolina for the 2019 season.

Cole Luke, Safety


Height: 5’11”

Weight: 200 lbs

Age: 24 years

College: Notre Dame

Experience: 2 years

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: Can we please officially nickname him Cole “Hand” Luke? For those of you who are too young to remember a time when movies were more than just sequels and superhero flicks, in 1967 a young Paul Newman was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award in the classic film Cool Hand Luke. The nickname just makes way too much sense. And if Luke ever blows a coverage we can lament the familiar refrain, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

From a football standpoint, Luke was signed by the Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2017. His rookie campaign was derailed though after a season-ending ankle injury landed him on the injured reserve list prior to the start of the regular season. He was brought back to Carolina in 2018 and spent the entire year on the practice squad. After two seasons in the league he has yet to appear in a regular season game.

The upcoming season will be Luke’s third in the Panthers defensive system so he should hit the ground running. He has gone through a position change moving from nickle corner to safety, but his new position likely offers him the best chance to make the 53-man roster.

Let’s hope in the upcoming season Cole “Hand” Luke channels his inner Paul Newman and makes an impact on his team. If he does, I’ll be the first to say, “That’s my darling Luke. He grins like a baby, but he bites like a gator.”