Training camp has come and gone at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. for the Carolina Panthers. As we look forward to their second preseason game on Saturday in Tennessee, let’s have some fun and do an early 53-man roster projection for the Panthers based on what we saw in both training camp and their preseason opener.

53-Man Roster Projection:


Quarterback (3)

Cam Newton

Derek Anderson

Joe Webb

No real surprises here, just questions about the soreness in Cam Newton’s shoulder as he hopes to regain his 2015 MVP form.

Running Back (3)

Jonathan Stewart

Christian McCaffrey (R)

Cameron Artis-Payne

What about Fozzy Whittaker you might ask? I see the Panthers keeping just three running backs due to the versatility of Curtis Samuel, the second round pick from Ohio State that is listed as a receiver but can play snaps at running back as well. Whittaker plays a similar style to both rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, so having another bigger back on the roster like Cameron Artis-Payne in case Jonathan Stewart gets injured makes more sense.

Fullback (1)

Darrel Young

Young beats out the rookie Alex Armah and wins the fullback job. Armah is a candidate for the practice squad.

Wide Receiver (6)

Kelvin Benjamin

Devin Funchess

Curtis Samuel (R)

Russell Shepard

Damiere Byrd

Brenton Bersin

Damiere Byrd impressed throughout training camp and followed that up with an explosive performance last Thursday night against the Houston Texans. Byrd will be used as a returner as well. Brenton Bersin is on the roster bubble but may sneak on to the final 53-man roster if he performs well the rest of preseason. Bersin is competing with Kaelin Clay, Austin Duke and others for that final receiver spot.

Tight End (3)

Greg Olsen

Ed Dickson

Chris Manhertz

No changes here from last season. Olsen will be looking to make it four straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards. Look for Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula to utilize Ed Dickson more in the passing game this year.

Offensive Line (10)

Matt Kalil

Andrew Norwell

Ryan Kalil

Trai Turner

Daryl Williams

Taylor Moton (R)

Amini Silatolu

Tyler Larsen

Chris Scott

Dan France

Matt Kalil was given a massive five-year contract in free agency worth $55.5 million with $25 million guaranteed. Pencil him in as Cam Newton’s new left tackle following the release of Michael Oher last month. Rookie Taylor Moton has impressed in training camp with his versatility, spending time at both tackle spots and even guard. It would not be a shock to see him find his way into this starting lineup by season’s end if either Daryl Williams or Andrew Norwell struggle.

Defensive Line (9)

Charles Johnson

Star Lotulelei

Kawann Short

Mario Addison

Julius Peppers

Kyle Love

Vernon Butler

Wes Horton

Daeshon Hall (R)

Texas A&M rookie Daeshon Hall finds his way on the roster with the last defensive end spot. Not too many surprises here, but look for defensive ends Julius Peppers, Wes Horton, and Daeshon Hall to all get playing time in a rotation behind starters Charles Johnson and Mario Addison. Kawann Short is an elite defensive tackle who’s looks to have another big season.

Linebackers (6)

Thomas Davis

Luke Kuechly

Shaq Thompson

Jeremy Cash

David Mayo

Jared Norris

Ben Jacobs is the odd man out as the Panthers only keep six linebackers this year. Jeremy Cash and Jared Norris are valuable special teams contributors as well. Clemson rookie Ben Boulware is a potential practice squad candidate.

Cornerbacks (5)

James Bradberry

Daryl Worley

Captain Munnerlyn

Zack Sanchez

Corn Elder (R)

James Bradberry has the chance to establish himself as a star cornerback in this league if he can take the next step in his development. He has certainly impressed throughout training camp, earning rave reviews from coaches and teammates. Teddy Williams just loses out to rookie Corn Elder, despite Elder not practicing due to a knee injury. Elder is simply too talented to stash on the practice squad, as another team in the league would undoubtedly steal him. If Elder’s knee injury does not heal in time for the start of the season, he could start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would open up a roster spot for Teddy Williams. Elder would likely replace Williams on the roster once he is healthy enough to play.

Safety (4) 

Kurt Coleman

Mike Adams

Colin Jones

Dezmen Southward

Safety depth is the biggest weakness on this team and General Manager Marty Hurney will definitely watch the waiver wire as teams make their roster cuts around the league. While Southward is penciled in as making the team here, look for him to be replaced by a free agent the Panthers claim or sign at the roster cuts deadline.

Specialists (3)

Graham Gano

Andy Lee

J.J. Jansen

No surprises are expected at any of the three specialist positions.

There we have it, our Panthers final 53-man roster projection as it stands today. With three more preseason games to go, this is certainly subject to change.

Keep Pounding.

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