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August 31, 2012

Panthers trim roster on cut day (updated)

The Carolina Panthers must trim their roster from 75 to 53 on Friday, and they must do it by 9 p.m.

Below is a list of players who have been cut that we can confirm. We'll be updating this blog as more cuts roll through.

If you want to compare the cuts with the projections compiled by Joseph Person, click here.

1:35 p.m.: DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo and DE Ryan Van Bergen 

2:27 p.m.: WR Seyi Ajirotutu

2:38 p.m.: CB R.J. Stanford

3:20 p.m.: Carolina trades a future seventh round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers for S Colin Jones. The second-year player from TCU had six tackles last season.

3:50 p.m.: CB Darius Butler (former second-round draft pick by the Patriots)

4:30 p.m.: LB David Nixon, T Matt Reynolds, WR Jared Green (will be signed to practice squad)

5:30 p.m.: RB Armond Smith, RB Tauren Poole 

5:35 p.m.: A league source tells Joseph Person that WR Armanti Edwards will not be waived by the Panthers.

5:50 p.m.: LB Kion Wilson

5:55 p.m.: In an official release, the Panthers confirm the cuts and the trade for Colin Jones. The Panthers have 12 more moves to announce by 9 p.m.

10:25 p.m.: The remaining moves have yet to be released. Cuts were to be reported to the league by 9 p.m., but not necessarily announced publicly by then. 

10:48 p.m.: G Bryant Browning, WR Lamont Bryant, DT Nate Chandler, TE Joe Jon Finley, S Jonathan Nelson, S Jordan Pugh, TE Nelson Rosario, RB Armond Smith, G Justin Wells, LB Jason Williams, G Zack Williams, S Reggie Smith.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2012 at 01:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (118)

August 30, 2012

Panthers moving into next stage of preparation

    The four preseason games behind them, head coach Ron Rivera, his staff and general manager Marty Hurney will spend the bulk of Friday finalizing the Panthers' 53-man roster.

   It means telling some players their good work wasn't good enough. It means telling others on the bubble that they're in. It's not easy but it's necessary.

  "That's how it goes. It's my third training camp, third night like that," receiver Seyi Arjirotutu said before flying off into what would be a long Thursday night, wondering if he would make the Panthers' roster.

   "You don't get used to it. You know it's a business. You know all the time you put in from the spring to camp in Spartanburg to now, it's all a culmination of what you've done."

   It's the same for Armanti Edwards, who may be battling Ajirotutu for the last roster spot.

  "I've just been focusing in on myself and not worrying about everybody else," Edwards said as he dressed after the Pittsburgh game Thursday night.

   Once the roster is finalized, the Panthers will have Saturday off and get back to practice Sunday for the regular-season opener Sept.9 at Tampa. It's a slightly offbeat opening week schedule with Monday an off day followed by a Tuesday practice in Charlotte before the team flies to Florida to escape the distractions of the Democratic National Convention that takes over Bank of America Stadium Thursday.

  There are injuries to heal, though nothing serious enough that Rivera is suggesting a key player could miss the opening game. 

   One part of the process was completed Thursday night. Another part is completed Friday.

   Then the biggest part begins.

-- Ron Green Jr.





Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2012 at 11:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Steelers 10, Panthers 3, halftime


 PITTSBURGH -- If the Panthers are going to end the preseason with a bang, they're going to have to do something different in the second half.

   In a flat, sloppy game, the Panthers trail Pittsburgh 10-3 at halftime at Heinz Field in the final preseason game for both teams.

   To no one's surprise, the Panthers didn't play many of their starters as they look toward their Sept. 9 regular-season opener at Tampa. 

   No offensive starter played and more than half of the defensive starters didn't play against the Steelers. Head coach Ron Rivera had hinted prior to the game that the starters wouldn't play.

   Pittsburgh took a similar approach with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline with most of the Steelers starters.

   It wasn't a pretty first half for the Panthers, who made mistakes and gave up big plays. The game started with Panthers linebacker Jordan Senn getting called for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch. 

    Shortly thereafter, Batch threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders for a 7-0 lead before the game was three minutes old.

   The Steelers pushed the lead to 10-0 on a 49-yard Scott Suisham field goal late in the first quarter. The Panthers finally scored with a 31-yard Justin Medlock field goal midway through the second quarter to cut the deficit to 10-3.

   Twice the Panthers' special teams were bailed out by penalty flags after allowing Pittsburgh rookie Chris Rainey to go 78 and 90 yards for apparent touchdowns on punt returns. 

-- Ron Green Jr.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2012 at 08:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 29, 2012

Observer projects 53-man roster for Panthers

After the Panthers made their first round of cuts Monday, general manager Marty Hurney said the team still had another wave of tough decisions to make to get the roster from 75 to 53 by the end of the week.

Two days before Friday's deadline, let's take a look at the likely locks, cuts and bubble guys for the Panthers, by position.

(projected roster spots noted in parentheses)


Locks (2): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson

Bubble (1): Jimmy Clausen

Clausen was inactive for every game last year, but won praise from Ron Rivera for his professional approach on the sideline and in the meeting room. Clausen has been awful during the preseason, but the Panthers are expected to keep all three quarterbacks.


Locks (4): DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Richie Brockel

Bubble: Tauren Poole

Cuts: Armond Smith

With Tolbert a versatile fullback who can run and block, there's really no need to keep Poole as a third tailback. Poole would seem a likely candidate for the practice squad. Brockel's versatility and special teams skills get him on the team.


Locks (5): Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy, Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams

Bubble (1): Armanti Edwards, Seyi Ajirotutu

Cuts: Lamont Bryant, Jared Green

When David Gettis was placed on the PUP list, it essentially assured a spot for Edwards or Ajirotutu. Ajirotutu has added value as a special teams contributor. Edwards' fate seemed to be sealed when the Panthers drafted Adams as their punt returner.


Locks (3): Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, Ben Hartsock

Cuts: Nelson Rosario, Joe Jon Finley

The Panthers kept three tight ends last year, four counting Brockel. With Barnidge more of a receiver than a blocker, Hartsock becomes essential.


Locks (7): Jordan Gross, Amini Silatolu, Ryan Kalil, Geoff Hangartner, Byron Bell, Bruce Campbell, Mike Pollak

Bubble (1): Garry Williams, Matt Reynolds

Cuts: Bryant Browning, Jeff Byers, Zack Williams, Justin Wells

Campbell, acquired from Oakland for Mike Goodson during the offseason, is back at his more natural position of tackle and can play either side. Pollak is a swing player who can line up at guard and center. Williams has experience at guard and tackle, although coaches like Reynolds, a 26-year-old rookie from BYU.


Locks (8): Charles Johnson, Ron Edwards, Terrell McClain, Greg Hardy, Thomas Keiser, Sione Fua, Antwan Applewhite, Frank Alexander

Bubble (1): Frank Kearse, Ogemdi Nwagbuo

Cuts: Nate Chandler, Ryan Van Bergen

*Andre Neblett will start season on reserve/suspended list.

Because of all the situational packages, the Panthers need a lot of bodies up front. Keiser has shown again during the preseason is a valuable, edge rusher who needs to be on the field on third down. Applewhite is involved in several packages, as well as special teams. Kearse's upside gets him the final spot here.


Locks (6): Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, James Anderson, Thomas Davis, Jordan Senn, Jason Phillips

Bubble (2): Kenny Onatolu, Jason Williams, Kion Wilson

Cuts: David Nixon

Onatolu, sidelined with a hamstring injury, was brought in to boost the special teams. Provided his hamstring improves, he's on the team. Williams, just back from a hyperextended elbow, gets the last spot over Wilson.


Locks (6): Chris Gamble, Captain Munnerlyn, Charles Godfrey, Haruki Nakamura, Sherrod Martin, Josh Norman

Bubble (3): Josh Thomas, R.J. Stanford, D.J. Campbell, Reggie Smith

Cuts: Jordan Pugh, Jonathan Nelson, Darius Butler

Backup corners Thomas and Stanford both have had strong preseasons, as has Smith at safety. Each has a good chance of making it. Rookie safety Campbell, the seventh-round pick, could be one of the last cuts.


Locks (3): Justin Medlock, Brad Nortman, J.J. Jansen

The Panthers went with the unproven, but strong legs of Medlock and Nortman, cutting Olindo Mare and Nick Harris.

 --Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on August 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)

August 28, 2012

Veterans rest at practice on Tuesday

Several veterans on the Carolina Panthers sat out of practice Tuesday for various reasons as the team prepares for the final game of the preseason.

Wide receiver Steve Smith continues to nurse a foot infection that has sidelined him for more than a week. He was still on crutches Tuesday but head coach Ron Rivera said his receiver was "much better." Running back Jonathan Stewart is day-to-day with an ankle sprain, which was not a high ankle sprain. He will not play Thursday against Pittsburgh.

Also, fullback Mike Tolbert, who took a hit to his quad Sunday against the New York Jets on Sunday, was not on the practice field Tuesday.

Among the other players not participating were LB Jon Beason (hamstring) and Andre Neblett (fatigue). Both offensive tackle Jordan Gross and tight end Greg Olsen had the day off. So, too, did center Ryan Kalil, whose family welcomed a newborn girl this weekend.

The Panthers will practice Wednesday morning before leaving for Pittsburgh. Rivera said he and his staff will decide tonight on how to divide up playing time Thursday.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 28, 2012 at 06:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 27, 2012

Panthers cut Olindo Mare

Olindo Mare's stint with the Panthers lasted only one season.

A year after the Panthers released popular place-kicker John Kasay and signed Mare, the Panthers have given Mare the boot, as well.

The Panthers released Mare and veteran punter Nick Harris on Monday in the first round of cuts, the team announced.

The Panthers signed Mare to a four-year, $12 million deal to handle both the placements and kickoffs to free a roster spot. Kasay, an original Panther, did not kick off in his last few seasons in Charlotte.

But Mare, 39, fell out of favor by missing two fourth-quarter field goals last season that cost the Panthers victories. He was booed throughout much of the preseason, and consistently came up short on field goals of 50 yards or more in training camp.

The move leaves Justin Medlock as the only kicker currently on the roster, although it's not clear if the Panthers intend to sign one of several veteran kickers who have been released. Medlock, 28, has attempted only two field goals in the NFL – as a rookie for Kansas City in 2007 – before spending several seasons in the CFL.

The Panthers also are going young at punter, although the decision to keep rookie Brad Nortman over Harris was not unexpected. The Panthers drafted Nortman in the sixth round out of Wisconsin to replace Jason Baker.

NFL teams needed to pare rosters to 75 today. The Panthers' moves included putting WR David Gettis (hamstring) on the reserve/PUP list and placing CB Brandon Hogan (knee) on injured reserve. Gettis will have to sit out the first six regular-season games.

The Panthers also released DE Eric Norwood, a fourth-round pick from South Carolina in 2010.

Their other cuts were all undrafted players: WRs Rico Wallace, Brenton Bersin, Michael Avila and Darvin Adams, RBs Josh Vaughan and Lyndon Rowells, TE Greg Smith, and guards Will Blackwell and Roger Allen.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on August 27, 2012 at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (64)

August 26, 2012

Panthers lead Jets 10-9 at halftime

A late touchdown by the Carolina Panthers gave the visitors the lead heading into halftime at MetLife Stadium.

The Panthers lead the New York Jets 10-9 after the first half of action Sunday night. 

Cam Newton hit Louis Murphy for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:16 remaining in the second quarter for the first touchdown of the game. The Panthers had scored on their first drive of the game with 33-yard field goal by Olindo Mare.

The Jets have yet to score a touchdown this preseason. New York scored three field goals after the Panthers stopped the home team twice in the red zone. 

Linebacker Thomas Davis made his return to action Sunday night. In his second play of the game, Davis sacked Mark Sanchez for an eight-yard loss on third down. Davis, who is returning from his third reconstructive knee surgery, has been used on special teams and third-down plays only this half.

Running backs Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart were both sidelined late in the half. Tolbert was limping off the field with ice on his right knee while Stewart was carted off the field with what appeared on replays to be a rolled right ankle.

Carolina's offensive starters have been in 35 plays, which was the low end of what head coach Ron Rivera expected. He said earlier in the week the starters could see time in the third quarter with as many as 46 total plays.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 26, 2012 at 09:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

August 24, 2012

LB Davis to play Sunday vs. Jets, Smith and Beason out

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said linebacker Thomas Davis will play Sunday night against the New York Jets.

Davis has been hampered by a strained calf while recovering from a third reconstructive knee surgery, but the linebacker has seen time on the practice field this week.

Wide receiver Steve Smith, who at some point during the weekend suffered a foot infection, will not play Sunday. Rivera said if this were the regular season, Smith would officially be ruled as "out."

Smith was still on crutches Friday after first being seen on them Wednesday after a doctor's visit. He's been on antibiotics and the team is monitoring the swelling. 

Linebacker Jon Beason will also not play while he continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

Defensive tackle Andre Neblett has been out for nearly two weeks with an undisclosed illness. On Friday, Rivera said he had recently been told that Neblett had suffered from hypertension, stress and fatigue. There's no definite timetable on his return--he's suspended the first four games of the season anyway--but Rivera said he expects him back "soon."

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

August 23, 2012

Steve Smith improving, but status still in doubt

Panthers coach Ron Rivera says receiver Steve Smith is improving, but the team plans to be cautious with Smith's infected foot.

Smith missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, although Rivera said Smith's foot had improved following a round of antibiotics.

Rivera said the Panthers will decide Friday whether Smith will play in Sunday's exhibition against the Jets. But Rivera indicated he's not going to rush the 12-year veteran back into action.

“Putting him out there right now in this situation and circumstances would not be smart, especially if he doesn't get any practice reps in terms of what we do,” Rivera said.

“This is really a game-plan week. We're approaching this week as if we would any regular-season game. … To put a guy out there when he hasn't had a chance to get those reps would be careless.”

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on August 23, 2012 at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Talking 'The Office' with superfan Byron Bell

NBC’s popular comedy show “The Office” will wrap up at the close of Season 9 this fall, and there’s one Panther in particular who is sad to see it go.

Second-year offensive tackle Byron Bell is a self-proclaimed huge "Office" fan, and in a recent interview we discussed his disappointment with the series ending before delving into football-related topics for print.

“I am very sad. Michael, when he left in Season 7, I was already hurt,” Bell said, referring to Steve Carrell’s character Michael Scott, the regional manager of Scranton’s Dunder-Mifflin office. “It doesn’t matter though. Dwight is still there, Angela and all those guys.”

So who’s your favorite character, Byron?

“Oh, Michael by far. Him and Dwight? Ah man, those dudes are hilarious. Then you got Jim doing all the pranks on him...”

In case you have no idea what Byron is talking about, here’s one of Jim’s best pranks on volunteer sheriff’s deputy Dwight Schrute.

Bell’s girlfriend recently bought him a Dwight bobblehead, an "Office" sign and Scott’s Dunder-Mifflin mug with the words “World’s Best Boss” on it. Here's the photo of his collection.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 23, 2012 at 09:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)