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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Thomas as starting CB shouldn't be a shock

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Josh Thomas is listed as the starter at left cornerback over Josh Norman on the Carolina Panthers' first depth chart of the regular season.

This shouldn't come as a complete surprise since Thomas is more sound at many of the little things in coverage, particularly zone coverage, that cost Norman the starting job a year ago.

But don't be surprised to see Norman, who led the NFL with four preseason interceptions (two more than any other player), on the field a lot.

Coach Ron Rivera said when explaining the release of veteran Drayton Florence on Saturday that the team needed to get its two young defensive backs playing time. He gave reasons both will be on the field not only in Saturday's opener against Seattle but all season.

"They're both good, solid, young football players and they need to get on the football field, both of them," Rivera said. "They are different style football players. Thomas is more compact, physical. Norman is more long range. He has good poise.

"What I'd love is to have those two guys develop into full-time starters.''

Amini Silatolu is listed as a starter at left guard on offense, but that will depend on how he goes through the next couple of days with the hamstring injury that sidelined him at the end of training camp.

The same goes for strong safety Mike Mitchell. If he can't go, veteran Quintin Mikell, signed as a free agent on Monday, will step in.