With cuts looming over the next week, its time to take a look at who is in and who is out for the Carolina Panthers. Colin Hoggard and Mac Attack contributor, Danny Guy, set about to make the necessary cuts. Two injuries have opened the door for guys, who just last week were on the outside looking in. The addition of Travelle Wharton pushes another lineman to the practice squad. The specialists are now locked in, the wide receivers remain in flux and for reference here’s the guys first attempt at projecting the roster. Here’s their roster projections, complete with analysis, last four in/out and a bonus practice squad supplement:
Analysis: No change from last week. Despite rumblings, Clausen is out in favor of a position player that can help the squad.
Running Back (4)
Analysis: The lingering injury for Jonathan Stewart opens the door for Tauren Poole. Poole’s played well enough to earn a spot and was caught in the numbers crunch until Stewart’s injury opened the door.
Tight End (4)
Analysis: Brockel wasn’t good against the Ravens, but the Panthers need a reliable blocker (at least in terms of knowing the correct assignment) in the event of an injury to Olsen or Hartsock. Brockel also fills the h-back role and doesn’t have much competition there.
Wide Receiver (7)
Ted Ginn Jr
Analysis: With the Pilares injury, Domenik Hixon now makes the squad, despite his continued injury troubles.
Offensive Tackle (3)
Nate Chandler (Free Agent)
Offensive Guard (3)
Analysis: The major change is the signing of Travelle Wharton tonight. Wharton will compete for one of the starting Guard positions and also provide a backup for Byron Bell at Right Tackle. The odd man out is Chris Scott who will be sent to the Practice Squad.
Defensive End (4)
Analysis: Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy, and Frank Alexander all can sleep easy knowing they’re in no danger of losing their spots. Third year player Mario Addison gets the last spot because he’s not Practice Squad eligible, and he’s flashed just as much as rookie Ends Wes Horton and Craig Roh.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Sione Fua (Free Agent)
Analysis: Sticking with five Defensive Tackles to protect the top two guys in the rotation from hitting the rookie wall. Colin Cole is a big body who can backup at the NT position, and Sione Fua has Frank Kearse’s injury to thank for his spot on the 53.
Analysis: With Beason back on the field there’s less of a need for an extra Linebacker on the roster. Kuechly, Beason and Davis are on paper, the leagues most talented trio of Linebackers. Chase Blackburn, Jordan Senn and fifth round pick AJ Klein all provide valuable depth and Special Teams help.
Analysis: No changes from last week. Drayton Florence makes the roster as a veteran presence in a young Defensive Backfield, and Josh Norman turns his Preseason run into a potential starting job. DJ Moore has been impressive, and adds versatility being able to play every position in the back four. Captain Munnerlyn returns to the Nickel role he shines at, and Josh Thomas is retained based on his performance down the stretch in 2012.
Analysis: Charles Godfrey and Mike Mitchell seem entrenched as the starters despite Mitchell’s somewhat reckless play. Haruki Nakamura is kept for depth as Robert Lester just isn’t ready to be counted on against NFL competition. Colin Jones is kept for his play on Special Teams, and despite what can best be described as an interpretive dance impression D.J. Campbell makes it as one of the last four in.
Special Teams (3)
K – Graham Gano
P – Brad Nortman
LS – JJ Jansen
Analysis: No surprises here, Kicker Graham Gano and Punter Brad Nortman have been as close to stars this Preseason as Specialists can get. JJ Jansen will continue in his familiar role as the Panthers Long Snapper. With the cuts of Morgan Lineberry and Jordan Gay, the specialists are locked in.
Physically Unable to Perform / Injured Reserve
Last Four In: D.J. Campbell, Sione Fua, Domenik Hixon, Tauren Poole
Last Four Out: Jimmy Clausen, Jason Williams, Armond Smith, Chris Scott
Analysis: Wes Horton, Craig Roh, Melvin White and Brenton have all made splash plays this Preseason and should be retained for the future. Lester is a good project at Safety to keep around, and it doesn’t hurt to keep him and see how he progresses. Garrett Chisolm is kept for a big body on the Practice Squad, and Chris Scott loses his spot on the 53 after the signing of Travelle Wharton. He still has Practice Squad eligibility though, so the Panthers try to stash him here.
Listen to Colin Hoggard M-F 6a-10a on the Mac Attack and the Weekend Warriors on Sunday 8-9a.
Read more of Danny Guy’s football thoughts including his college football’s Best of the Best series.