From quarterbacks to safeties, the Panthers have a lot of decisions to make
With our first crack at the Carolina Panthers final 53-man roster out, let’s take a look at the guys who are on the bubble. These are the players who have a chance to play their way onto that roster with good to exceptional performances on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Quarterback: Will Grier (or PJ Walker)
I predicted that Walker was going to win the quarterback battle, but that was basically a coin flip. Technically, that puts Grier on the bubble on my roster. The reality is that whichever quarterback plays well tomorrow earns the job. If both guys ball out then the Panthers have some soul searching to do. It is still within the realm of possibility that they keep both.
Offensive line: Sam Tecklenburg
Tecklenburg has had a great preseason and would have earned himself a roster spot except for the glut of talent the Panthers have up front. That talent isn’t all top-tier talent, but neither is Tecklenburg yet. I don’t think he has beat out Matt Paradis for the starting job, and the Panthers have guys that can flex between guard, center, and tackle such that they don’t need a specific back up at center. Look for Tecklenburg to be signed to the practice squad unless he makes a case so strong that they have to find a way to keep him. The other option is that even a hang nail could land him on injured reserve at this point, for safekeeping.
Wide receiver: Brandon Zylstra and Omar Bayless
Both guys have turned in solid camps before, albeit Bayless’ was last year. They are currently the odd men out in a newly stacked wide receiver room. Either could force the team to consider keeping seven wide receivers and either could be the next guy up if one of the other six goes down with an injury against Pittsburgh. Right now, Zylstra has the edge in the competition for the best of the rest.
Defensive line: Christian Miller, Phil Hoskins
This team, once again, has a glut of depth talent at both end and tackle. The Panthers like both of these guys, but simply have no room for them on the active roster. With new practice squad rules that allow more liberally for veterans, both are candidates there.
Hoskins has the best route to an actual roster spot if either Daviyon Nixon or Bravvion Roy get injured or get lost against the Steelers. Getting lost seems less likely for fellow rookie Nixon, who has had a stellar training camp so far.
Safety: Sean Chandler, Myles Hartsfield
These guys have both made plays in live preseason action. Their questions tomorrow night are can they keep making plays and can they prove more consistent than Kenny Robinson or Sam Franklin? It’s a tough hill to climb, but it’s not impossible.
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