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Friday, August 29, 2014
Carolina Panthers' projected roster

By David Newton

Examining the Carolina Panthers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Webb looked expendable until Newton suffered a fractured rib in the third preseason game against New England. Coach Ron Rivera was fairly adamant the Panthers will keep three quarterbacks until it is clear Newton is healthy -- and maybe longer.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Whittaker emerged as the fourth back after the trade of Kenjon Barner to Philadelphia. Darrin Reaves still could figure into the mix, but with three quarterbacks, that doesn't appear likely now.

RECEIVERS (6)

This became clearer when Tiquan Underwood, Kealoha Pilares and Toney Clemons were released. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers picked up a receiver/kick returner off waivers after final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
Mike McNeill was signed to a two-year deal early in free agency, but with the emergence of Williams and a nagging knee injury, he becomes expendable. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers kept five tight ends at what has become the deepest position outside of the defensive front. That likely would mean eight linemen instead of nine.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The key here is flexibility, which might mean eight instead of nine if the Panthers choose to keep five tight ends. Williams and Chandler can play tackle or guard. Turner can play guard and backup center. Folkerts and Velasco can play center and guard. Undrafted rookie tackle David Foucault appears to be the odd man out.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

As I continue to say, don't forget defensive end Frank Alexander. He has had a great preseason, earning 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.

LINEBACKERS (6)

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.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The starters appear set in Cason and White. Benwikere and Godfrey will share the nickel spot. Norman is having another good preseason. This makes Josh Thomas the odd man out.

SAFETIES (4)

Flip a coin between Russell and Robert Lester for the final spot. As insurance, the Panthers are working safety-turned-cornerback Godfrey back at safety some. Godfrey's versatility to do both allows the Panthers to go with one less defensive back and keep three quarterbacks. The plan for fourth-round pick Tre Boston likely will be injured reserve or waived injured and then re-signed and placed on the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These positions are set, barring an injury.