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August 31, 2013

Gettis among Panthers' final cuts

The Panthers' final cuts included just a couple of surprises, marked by the releases of veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, a free agent acquisition during the offseason, and wideout David Gettis, who was waived-injured.

With third-team quarterback Jimmy Clausen (shoulder) also getting waived-injured, the Panthers' 53-man roster includes more centers (three) than quarterbacks (two).

Carolina kept center Brian Folkerts as protection for backup center Jeff Byers, who made the team but has been dealing with a knee injury.

Panthers first-year general manager Dave Gettleman is almost certain to scan the cut lists around the league to find help along the offensive line and perhaps the secondary or receiving corps.

Gettis had a solid preseason, but injured his hamstring during warmups before Thursday's exhibition finale against Pittsburgh. The Panthers decided to go with five wideouts, influenced undoubtedly by the performance of new arrival Ted Ginn Jr. this month.

The Panthers also kept five defensive ends.

A pair of undrafted rookies made the team -- Wes Horton, a defensive end from Southern Cal, and Melvin White, a cornerback from Louisiana-Lafayette.

Here are the Panthers' moves Saturday to get to 53 players:



Player                           Pos                   Exp.     College

Brenton Bersin          WR                   1            Wofford College

Garrett Chisolm        T                        1            South Carolina

Dominique Curry      TE                     3            California (Pa.)

Sione Fua                    DT                     3            Stanford

Hayworth Hicks         G                       2            Iowa State

Doug Hogue               LB                     3            Syracuse

Taulib Ikharo              WR                   1            Louisiana Tech

Ben Jacobs                  LB                     2            Fresno State

Robert Lester            S                        R           Alabama

Tori Mobley                G                       R           Jacksonville State

Zack Pianalto              TE                     2            North Carolina

Tauren Poole             RB                     2            Tennessee

Craig Roh                     DE                     R           Michigan

James Shaw               WR                   1            Jacksonville State

Casey Walker             DT                     R           Oklahoma



Player                           Pos                   Exp.     College

D.J. Campbell             S                        2            California

Jimmy Clausen          QB                    4            Notre Dame

David Gettis               WR                   4            Baylor

Anderson Russell     S                        3            Ohio State


Terminated Vested Veteran

Player                           Pos                   Exp.     College

Patrick Brown            T                        3            Central Florida

Drayton Florence     CB                     11         Tuskegee

Jason Williams           LB                     5            Western Illinois


--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2013 at 06:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Panthers release Sione Fua, 2011 Panthers draft class shrinks

Cam Newton is now the last remaining player from the Panthers' 2011 draft class on Carolina's active roster.

A source confirmed the Panthers cut ties with DT Sione Fua on Saturday morning. Fua, drafted in the third round in 2011 out of Stanford, had 32 tackles and zero sacks in 24 career appearances for Carolina.

The writing was on the wall this preseason for Fua after the Panthers drafted two defensive tackles--Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short--with their first two draft picks in April.

WR Kealoha Pilares, a fifth-round pick that year, remains with the Panthers, but he's on injured reserve this season. Here's the 2011 draft class:

First round: QB Cam Newton (starting quarterback)

2: Choice traded to New England

3: DT Terrell McClain (released in 2012); DT Sione Fua (released today)

4: CB Brandon Hogan (waived from IR in 2012) 

5: WR Kealoha Pilares (IR)

6: LB Lawrence Wilson (released in 2011); 6. G Zack Williams (released in 2013)

7: Choice to Green Bay; T Lee Ziemba (waived from IR in 2012)

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2013 at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

List of Panthers final roster cuts

The Panthers have to go from 75 players on the active roster to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.

Below is the list of players released by the Panthers, according to Observer and other media reports. We'll update this list throughout the day:

  • QB Jimmy Clausen
  • CB Drayton Florence
  • TE Zack Pianalto
  • WR James Shaw
  • WR Brenton Bersin
  • G Hayworth Hicks
  • DT Sione Fua
  • LB Doug Hogue
  • S Robert Lester
  • LB Ben Jacobs
  • RB Tauren Poole
  • T Patrick Brown
  • S D.J. Campbell
  • T Garrett Chisolm 

Current as of 5:15 p.m.

-- Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Panthers release veteran CB Drayton Florence

According to a league source, the Panthers have released veteran cornerback Drayton Florence, who for nearly all of training camp and the preseason took first-team reps at cornerback.

Florence, an 11-year veteran, joined the Panthers in March as an unrestricted free agent. He solidified his role in the defensive backfield one week into training camp. 

Florence held down that starting role through the preseason, with his best game coming in the third exhibition against the Ravens where he picked off a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown.

For those reasons, the move is somewhat surprising. But Carolina's secondary has stepped up this preseason with 10 interceptions, which led the NFL in the preseason. Josh Thomas and Josh Norman have played well at cornerback, and Norman racked up a preseason league-high four INTs. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2013 at 09:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Panthers release QB Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen will be looking for a new employer after three years with the Carolina Panthers.

Clausen, the former second-round pick and starter on the 2-14 2010 team, was cut by the Panthers on Saturday morning. The news, first reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, was all but confirmed by Clausen on his Twitter page.


The news comes as little surprise. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman has a background with the New York Giants of keeping two quarterbacks on the roster, and though Clausen played well in training camp, Derek Anderson's job as primary backup to Cam Newton was never really in question.

Carolina also needed the roster spot because of injuries to other positions on the field, most notably the offensive line. Clausen has been inactive for the past 32 regular season games, and his spot on the 53-man roster would be better served on a healthy offensive lineman rather than an inactive quarterback.

Clausen finishes his three-year career at Carolina with a 52.5 completion percentage, three touchdowns, nine interceptions, 33 sacks, nine fumbles and a 1-9 record in 10 starts.

This preseason, Clausen went 14-for-25 for 119 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Clausen played behind a third-team line with third-team receivers for most of the preseason, and Ron Rivera said Thursday night he would have liked to see more from Clausen with a better supporting cast.

"The unfortunate thing for Jimmy he’s working in with the third and fourth guys and that's always tough so you always have to take that with a grain of salt," Rivera said. "He made some good throws and threw a nice back shoulder to James Shaw. It’s just, you wish you could present him with some better opportunities as far as the guys on the field with him."

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2013 at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

August 30, 2013

Video: Jonathan Jones: Ted Ginn Jr. shines in Panthers' preseason finale

The Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones reports from Bank of America Stadium where the Panthers beat the Steelers, 25-10 on Thursday night. Ron Rivera spoke highly about newcomer Ted Ginn Jr. who scored two touchdowns.

Posted by Charlotte Observer on August 30, 2013 at 05:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Panthers' roster projection: Clausen cut

It's decision day at Bank of America Stadium.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is meeting with the coaching staff and personnel department Friday to finalize the 53-man roster by Saturday's deadline.

Injuries have made those decisions easier at some positions and muddled the situation at others.

While wide receivers Domenik Hixon, Armanti Edwards and David Gettis missed time with hamstring injuries during the preseason, their roster spots were seemingly assured when Kealoha Pilares (knee) and Joe Adams (calf) went to injured reserve.

Former Panther Travelle Wharton was signed last week to help the offensive line, which has seen its depth depleted by nagging injuries to Amini Silatolu and Jeff Byers, and the knee and hamstring issues that sent rookie Edmund Kugbila to IR.

Gettleman's work is just beginning. The longtime personnel director for the Giants will try to find treasure on other teams' cut lists and bring in a free agent or two.

The Observer projects how the Panthers will get from 75 to 53 players. (Changes from last week's projection noted in bold.)

Quarterbacks (2)

On the roster: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson

Off: Jimmy Clausen

Ron Rivera pointed out that Clausen had to play behind an offensive line made up of a lot of third-teamers (and soon-to-be-cut players) in the second half against Pittsburgh. Still, Clausen didn't help himself: He fumbled out of bounds, tripped on a handoff and failed to lead a touchdown drive.

Running backs (5)

On: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart (PUP list), Mike Tolbert, Richie Brockel, Kenjon Barner, Armond Smith

Off: Tauren Poole

Injured reserve: Mike Zordich

The Panthers need an extra back until Stewart comes off the PUP list. Smith is the faster of the two young backs, but too often goes down on first contact. Poole is a tough runner, but doesn't have as much special teams value as Smith.

Receivers (6)

On: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., Armanti Edwards, David Gettis, Domenik Hixon

Off: Taulib Ikharo, Brenton Bersin, James Shaw

IR: Joe Adams, Kealoha Pilares, R.J. Webb

As soon as one receiver gets healthy, another one tweaks his hamstring. That was the case again Thursday when Hixon caught three passes in his first exhibition action, but Gettis was held out after his hamstring grabbed during pre-game warmups.

Tight ends (3)

On: Greg Olsen, Ben Hartsock, Brandon Williams

Off: Dominique Curry, Zack Pianalto

Hartsock was in a cast this week for his plantar fasciitis, but is optimistic he'll be ready for Seattle in Week 1. Williams might be the surprise of the preseason.

Offensive linemen (9)

On: T Jordan Gross, T Byron Bell, G Garry Williams, G Amini Silatolu, C Ryan Kalil, G/C Jeff Byers, G Travelle Wharton, G Chris Scott, T Nate Chandler

Off: Garrett Chisolm, Tori Mobley, Brian Folkerts, Patrick Brown, Hayworth Hicks

IR: Edmund Kugbila, Bruce Campbell

Silatolu will have his hamstring re-evaluated Monday, but could miss the opener. The recent injuries have put a premium on swing players who can line up at two spots, although one of those utility players -- Byers -- is among the injured.

Defensive linemen (9)

On: DE Charles Johnson, DE Greg Hardy, DT Dwan Edwards, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Kawann Short, DE Frank Alexander, DE Mario Addison, DT Colin Cole, DT Sione Fua

Off: Casey Walker, Craig Roh, Wes Horton

IR: Frank Kearse, Linden Gaydosh

Alexander and Addison looked good in pass rush against the Steelers' second-team offensive line. Addison added to his value by making a tremendous play in punt coverage and forcing a safety.

Linebackers (7)

On: Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Chase Blackburn, A.J. Klein, Jordan Senn, Jason Williams

Off: Doug Hogue, Ben Jacobs

The last linebacker spot appears to be between Hogue and Williams, both of whom have ample special teams experience. The Panthers could look to keep Jacobs on the practice squad.

Defensive backs (9)

On: CB Captain Munnerlyn, CB Drayton Florence, S Charles Godfrey, S Mike Mitchell, CB Josh Thomas, CB Josh Norman, CB D.J. Moore, S Haruki Nakamura, S Colin Jones

Off: D.J. Campbell, James Dockery (injured), Melvin White, Robert Lester, Anderson Russell

Jones' roster spot was already assured because of his speed and open-field tackling skills on special teams. His two interceptions of Pittsburgh's Landry Jones only helped his cause.

Specialists (3)

On: K Graham Gano, P Brad Nortman, LS J.J. Jansen

Off: None.

Gano was 8-for-8 on field goals in the exhibitions, including two of 50 yards or longer. Nortman also had a strong preseason, averaging 49.1 yards on 16 punts.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

August 29, 2013

Ex-Panther: NFL withheld information on concussion risks

Former Panthers offensive lineman Frank Garcia, among the more than 4,500 plaintiffs in the NFL's concussion lawsuit, believes Thursday's $765 million settlement was a good start.

But Garcia believes more needs to be done in terms of baseline testing for high school and college players. And Garcia scoffed at the NFL's refusal to admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.

"This case was settled because the NFL withheld information" about the long-term effects of head injuries, said Garcia, a sports-talk radio host for WFNZ-AM in Charlotte.

"It's more the principle of it. I think it's more of an acknowledgement that there was responsibility and some negligence or they wouldn't be giving this money."

Garcia, 41, who played for three teams during a nine-year career, estimated he would receive about $60,000 from the settlement after taxes.

"I give the NFL credit. A lot of times it's hypocritical what their stances are," Garcia said. "This is the first time you can look and say, 'They're putting their money where their mouth is.'"

Garcia, who coaches his son's Pop Warner team and also is an assistant at Charlotte Catholic, would like to see more preventative measures taken at football's lower levels.

"I've had concussions and learned a lot more about concussions since I retired," said Garcia, who played from 1995-2003. "There is a responsibility the NFL had to inform. ... I think they're doing a lot more, and that's a good thing."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on August 29, 2013 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 27, 2013

Panthers place fourth-round draft pick Kugbila on IR

One full preseason practice is all the Carolina Panthers will get from their fourth-round draft choice this season.

The Panthers placed G Edmund Kugbila on the injured reserve after the rookie struggled to come back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him all of training camp.

"We had to make a tough decision with Edmund," coach Ron Rivera said. "The hard part is the young man has worked so hard. He’s flashed so much for us and you get excited about the young man but this last little situation—the tweak with the knee and all that stuff—in the long term, with our medical staff, they feel this is the best thing for him.

"It’s a long-term thing in terms of getting him ready to go and really looking toward the future with him. Disappointing we are going to miss a good young football player like the other four (draft picks) are getting ready to help us. I think he’s going to be fine and they’ll take care of the situation and get him all geared up."

Kugbila missed nearly all of spring workouts with a sore knee, then he strained his hamstring during the first training camp practice. He suffered a setback on his first day back at training camp and did not return to the practice field in pads until Saturday, but then suffered yet another setback and did not practice Sunday.

The Panthers were banking on the rookie to evolve into their starting right guard, especially after cutting veteran Geoff Hangartner at camp. Garry Williams won the role in training camp, but depth along the offensive line is Rivera's biggest concern going into the season.

Carolina waived/injured WR Joe Adams and DT Frank Kearse while placing RB Jonathan Stewart on PUP. The Panthers now have 75 players on their active roster, meeting the 4 p.m. league deadline.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on August 27, 2013 at 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

Stewart to start season on PUP list

After meeting with a doctor about his surgically repaired right ankle Tuesday, Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, the team announced.

Stewart, who has been on the preseason PUP list, would not be eligible to come off until the sixth week of the season.

"I can spend all my energy being disappointed, or spend all my energy preparing myself," Stewart said.

Stewart, who has not played or practiced since hurting the ankle last November during a game at Philadelphia, underwent surgery on both of his ankles during the offseason. But it's the right ankle that has given him the most trouble.

Stewart visited with Panthers team doctor Robert Anderson, a nationally known foot and ankle specialist, on Tuesday.

Stewart said the ankle still causes him pain, and a specific timetable for when he can begin running has not been laid out, yet. But he plans to return when he's eligible to for the start of Week 7.

"As of right now, just taking it day by day as I've been," Stewart said. "Just be there for my teammates and bring as much positive energy as I can. We start next week and we've got a long season ahead of us and I intend to be back."

The Panthers also placed rookie guard Edmund Kugbila on injured reserve, ending his season, and waived/injured second-year wideout/return specialist Joe Adams and defensive tackle Frank Kearse.

Adams, a fouth-round pick last year, struggled with fumbling issues as a rookie and has been sidelined for most of the preseason with a calf injury. Kearse, a reserve nose tackle, has been dealing with a knee issue.

The Panthers' backfield depth is being tested. While DeAngelo Williams will start, the situation behind him is murkier.

Fullback Mike Tolbert remains out with a hamstring injury, and rookie running back Kenjon Barner is sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team doesn't plan to add any more running backs, pointing to Tauren Poole and Armond Smith as backs whose roles could increase.

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on August 27, 2013 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)