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Panthers snap-count analysis: Safeties

Over the next 10 weekdays I will do a positional analysis of the distribution of snap counts for the Carolina Panthers during the 2014 season.

I will begin on defense.

First up: Safeties.

Roman Harper 949 snaps (86.4 percent)

Thomas DeCoud 683 snaps (62.2 percent)

Tre Boston 369 snaps (33.6 percent)

Charles Godfrey* 212 snaps (19.3 percent)

Robert Lester 17 snaps (1.5 percent)

*-- played safety and nickel corner

Analysis: Three things stand out. The Panthers finished 5-1, including the playoffs, after rookie Boston replaced DeCoud at free safety to give the secondary more speed. Boston might have become a regular sooner, but a sports hernia suffered early in offseason workouts and re-aggravated in training camp kept him from becoming a factor. His insertion into the lineup was an admission that the team made a mistake during free agency in signing DeCoud to a two-year, $3.75 million deal. Granted, as general manager Dave Gettleman said, the Panthers were forced to shop at the “Dollar Store’’ because of salary-cap limitations. But DeCoud struggled during the 2013 season with the Atlanta Falcons, who released him two years after giving him a five-year contract. He could face a similar fate with Carolina. The second thing that stands out is Godfrey. The Panthers attempted to move him from safety to nickel corner. That didn’t work out so they used him some at safety. He was cut in October. Another admission of a mistake. The final thing that stands out is Harper leading the way in snaps. He also was the lone survivor in the secondary from the four starters who began the season. The veteran leadership he brought to this group was crucial to the strong finish. After a slow start, he showed glimpses of the player who was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Saints. But at 32, you have to wonder how long it will be before he is replaced.