Carolina Panthers: 6 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble
The Carolina Panthers will be opening training camp on July 25th, and thus will mark a period where position battles will take place. While there are several positions that will be up for grabs, there will be players who will be fighting for a spot to round out the depth chart.
Some of these players are established veterans, while there are others who are still young and trying to make a name for themselves. Regardless of their status, they each stand a chance at getting cut before the regular season kicks off.
There are currently six players on the Panthers roster who seem to be sitting on the bubble. Their chances at remaining with the team will depend on their play during camp and how well they fare in preseason games.
All of them have a chance at making the final 53-man roster. All of them could find be on the waiver wire before it's all said and done. This is what puts them on the bubble.
Here is the list in no particular order.
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It would seem that keeping Jimmy Clausen around would be the logical thing to do. He knows the system and is familiar with the coaches and players in the offense. However, the one thing working against him is his position on the quarterbacks depth chart.
Not only is he the third string quarterback, he has been spending much of his time on the inactive roster since Carolina drafted Cam Newton. Derek Anderson has secured the position as Newton’s backup, and that doesn’t figure to change this year.
Clausen will have to work extra hard in camp, as he will be fighting undrafted rookie Colby Cameron for the final slot. He has the edge with experience over Cameron, but he has never looked particularly sharp in actual game situations. If he plans on playing out the final year of his rookie contract, Clausen will need to step up his game.
He may have not been the answer the Panthers were looking for back in 2010, but this young man could have a better chance at a securing a more traditional backup role with the right team in the right offense.
Armond Smith or Tauren Poole
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While both running backs possess good talent to make the final roster, it seems unlikely the Carolina Panthers will carry both Armond Smith and Tauren Poole on the same roster. They both showed flashes last year in camp and during the preseason, with Smith being called up to play in a few games last season.
The running back position is deep enough already, and with the selection of Kenjon Barner as the team's final pick of the year's draft, it suddenly appears as though a spot at the position's depth chart has become expendable.
Smith could have a slight advantage considering his ability to play special teams. However, don't count out Poole, who can carry the ball as well as anyone on the team. Essentially, this will not be a typical position battle but one that will determine who gets to stick around with the Panthers awhile longer.
There is a positive to take away from this situation. Both of these running backs are good enough that they shouldn't be out of a job for too long before another team claims them.
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Much like the running back position, the wide receivers are becoming a bit crowded as well. David Gettis has the potential to do some good things within the Carolina offense; however, his window is rapidly coming to a close.
He had a fairly decent rookie season with 37 catches for 508 yards and three scores. That isn't bad for someone who had to adapt to a new quarterback every other week. He was slowed by injuries in 2011, and while he was able to remain healthy last year, he didn't see any game time except for two appearances that didn't amount to anything.
There is still time for him to make a statement, and if he is to do that, it will need to happen this summer in camp and during the preseason games. Unfortunately, there are a few other guys on the team who he will need to beat out in order to secure a roster spot.
The Panthers look to have the first four wide receiver slots locked up with Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn, Jr. That could leave only two positions left with Gettis competing with Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams and the next guy on this list, Armanti Edwards.
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Carolina fans either love Armanti Edwards or they want him gone. One side of the spectrum still sees the potential he can bring to the offense, while others feel his potential was unrealized. There is no doubt that Edwards is a good, versatile talent; however, he has never seemed to fit into the offense the way he was envisioned to.
Edwards has been named the most improved player during OTAs by head coach Ron Rivera, but will it be enough to save his career?
However, if you look at his overall stats from an offensive standpoint, his career production consists of only five catches for 121 yards. His numbers haven't been better on special teams either.
He has returned 36 punts for 253 yards (7.03 yards per return) and 15 kicks for 295 yards (19.6 yards per return). He has no touchdowns to show for his efforts in the return game.
If Edwards is to remain with the Panthers, he will need to channel his success from OTAs and transfer it over to real game situations where it counts. A lot of people may want him gone, but many more are hoping he succeeds.
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It is difficult putting Frank Kearse on this list because he will be a backup at best on the Carolina defense in 2013.
He will be entering his third season with the team, and while he has played in only 14 games, the acquisition of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short during last April's draft and the signing of Colin Cole could put Kearse in a position to play for his job this summer.
Sione Fua could have easily made this slide, but he has a few more games under his belt even though their career numbers are nearly identical.
There will be plenty of competition at the defensive tackle positions, especially those involving backups and situational players. The Panthers may value a veteran like Cole over Kearse and be willing to see if any of the younger talent is ready to step up.
Despite the fact there are nine players listed at the defensive tackle position according to OurLads.com, Kearse's stiffest competition will come from Fua and Cole. Of the three, he looks to be the odd man out. However, that can change if Kearse has a great camp and preseason.
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There are three reasons why Haruki Nakamura is on this list. First, he didn't have the best season in 2012, as he had a few missed tackles and was beat by Roddy White in the first meeting with the Atlanta Falcons during a fourth quarter play that set up the game-winning field goal.
Second, the secondary is a crapshoot and looks to be a wide open competition. Finally, the Panthers have proven they are not afraid to cut ties with those who aren't living up to expectations—just ask Reggie Smith, who came over from San Francisco last year only to be cut during camp.
Nakamura will be looking to prove that last year was a fluke and that he learned a lot during his tenure as Ed Reed's backup in Baltimore. He is still a valuable asset on special teams, but Carolina will be needing more from him defensively if he is to remain a starter or even hold down a spot on the depth chart.
He has the experience factor going for him, and that will give him a considerable edge when it comes to live drills and actual game situations. Nakamura will need to play at a higher level than before, as rookie Robert Lester has been making a lot of noise this offseason.
Of the players listed on this slideshow, Nakamura could be the least likely to be released. That isn't to say he will survive camp, because he will need to out-play a bevy of rookies and veterans to keep his job.