Carolina Panthers' projected roster


Examining the Carolina Panthers' roster:


Webb looked expendable until Newton suffered a fractured rib in Friday's exhibition loss at New England. Coach Ron Rivera said that increases the odds that Carolina keeps three quarterbacks.


The top three are a given and Whittaker has emerged as a fourth after the trade of Kenjon Barner to Philadelphia. Darrin Reaves also could figure into the mix, but nagging injuries have kept him out of the last two preseason games.


This became clearer when Tiquan Underwood, Kealoha Pilares and Toney Clemons were released. Now it appears down to King and Marcus Lucas for the final spot, although don't be surprised if that isn't filled by a player who is on another roster at the moment.


I finally had to let Mike McNeill go to open up another spot in the secondary. But you easily could make the case for five at what has become the deepest position outside of the defensive front.


The starters are set, barring injury, with LT Bell, LG Silatolu, C Kalil, RG Turner and RT Chandler. The key here is flexibility. Williams and Chandler can play tackle or guard. Turner can play guard and backup center. Folkerts can play center and guard. Rookie David Foucault could slip into the mix as a backup tackle.


Don't forget DE Frank Alexander. He has had a great preseason, earning coach Ron Rivera's vote as the MVP of camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But he will be suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He will return to the 53-man roster in October.


Again, flexibility is key. Blackburn, who missed the past two preseason games with a back injury, can step in and replace Kuechly if he ever had to come off the field. He's more dependable than Klein there. Many of these players will be on special teams. D.J. Smith could figure into the mix.


Benwikere started at nickel on Friday night after safety-turned-cornerback Godfrey appeared to have that position nailed down. He still might, but keep an eye on what happens there. Norman is having another good preseason. This makes Josh Thomas the odd man out.


The emergence of Russell at strong safety while starter Harper was recovering from turf toe has made this interesting. That, along with Newton's injury and Carolina's subsequent desire to keep three quarterbacks, pushes Robert Lester -- who started some last season as an undrafted rookie -- out. The plan for fourth-round pick Tre Boston, who has been hampered by injuries, likely is to be waived injured and re-signed to the practice squad.


These positions are set, barring an injury.