Carolina Panthers: Dwan Edwards

A look at the defensive tackle position in my series on where the money is for the Carolina Panthers:

Total position spending: $8,282,148

Spending vs. league average: 16

Breakdown:

 
Analysis: Here's why general manager Dave Gettleman selected defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft. He got an immediate starter out of Lotulelei and a potential 2014 starter in Short -- for bargain prices. Together they count just over $3 million under the salary cap. To put that in perspective, Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy, arguably the best defensive tackle in the league, counts $15.6 million this season. The Panthers are spending $8.2 million on the entire tackle unit that was considered among the league's upper tier a year ago. In addition to the draft, getting veterans Dwan Edwards and Colin Cole at bargain rates was key. This has allowed the team to overspend at end while it gets the salary cap in order. By the time that's done over the next two years, Carolina will be in position to give Lotulelei and Short the big raises they will command.
The Carolina Panthers will have back the entire starting front seven of the defense that ranked second in the NFL in 2013.

Cole
The last missing link was 33-year-old defensive tackle Colin Cole, who according to an ESPN.com source, has agreed to a one-year deal.

Cole started 13 games last season beside rookie tackle Star Lotulelei. They were part of a rotation with Dwan Edwards and Kawann Short that was key to Carolina ranking second in the league against the run.

The rest of the starting front seven includes ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, and linebackers Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Chase Blackburn.

Several key backups also will return in linebacker A.J. Klein, end Mario Addison and end Frank Alexander.

The secondary remains a work in progress with free-agent signee Roman Harper expected to start at strong safety, but no other position is guaranteed.

The free safety spot could go to Charles Godfrey, who is coming off an Achilles injury, second-year player Robert Lester or a free agent yet to be signed. The Panthers had Atlanta free agent Thomas DeCoud in for a visit on Monday.

Free-agent signee Antoine Cason is expected to compete for one cornerback spot. Melvin White, who started 11 games as an undrafted rookie last season, will compete for the other.
Greg HardyAP Photo/Bob Leverone
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ron Rivera was describing breakdowns that allowed Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White to get wide open for a 39-yard touchdown on Sunday when the Carolina Panthers coach turned the topic to what could have happened.

"The unfortunate thing is if we could have eliminated that route, Greg Hardy could have gotten his fifth sack," Rivera said this week of his Pro Bowl defensive end, who had a team-record four sacks in the regular-season finale. "He was coming off the end like the train that he is, or the Kraken that he is, and he had a chance to make a play."

It's official.

Hardy is "The Kraken."

Or "The Kraken" is Hardy.

Until that moment, I'd never heard Rivera refer to the fourth-year player out of Ole Miss as the mythical sea monster that Hardy adopted as his nickname.

Some might argue it became official when Hardy introduced himself as "Kraken" from Hogwarts during a prime-time game against New Orleans on Dec. 8.

But it's one thing to introduce yourself. It's another to have those in authority refer to you by that name.

Or maybe when you get seven sacks over the final two games of the regular season and make the Pro Bowl for the first time, people start believing you can do -- or be -- anything you want to be.

So the next logical question for Rivera was, What did you think the first time you met "The Kraken"?

"That was my first year here," he said, pausing to laugh.

"Yeah," Rivera said, pausing again. "He's ... um, he's a very unique individual. He really he. He's got so much ability, so much talent, and he really just enjoys playing the game."

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott had a similar pause when asked the same question.

"I just found out a couple of weeks ago he puts it on his name tag [for pregame introductions]," McDermott said of the nickname.

So what's the difference between Hardy and Kraken?

"Your guess is as good as mine," McDermott said. "Whoever showed up [Sunday]."

He was referring to the player whose four sacks against Atlanta earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season, the player who in his postgame interview said he dominated his breakfast.

"Which I thought was awesome," McDermott said.

For those who missed it, a reporter asked Hardy how he was able to dominate Atlanta.

"Man, I dominated breakfast when I woke up, so I don't know what you're talking about," Hardy said. "I dominate everything I do. Silly question. Next question."

The next question was what Hardy had for breakfast.

"Cereal," Hardy said. "I killed it. No spoon."

You shouldn't be surprised. This is the same person who predicted he would have 50 sacks this year.

"Still have some games left, buddy," Hardy said when reminded he came up 35 short.

[+] EnlargeCarolina Panthers fans with 'Kraken' banner
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneHardy's alter-ego has taken hold in the Carolinas.
Told the NFL only counts regular-season statistics, Hardy responded, "Says who? I make the rules. Who's going to stop me?"

The simple answer is nobody. Not even his teammates, including those who didn't take him seriously the first time he put on black contact lenses and war paint for a game.

"Until he started backing up the way he's playing, you kind of laugh," defensive tackle Dwan Edwards said. "But man, when you see the way he plays ... I'm not going to stand in his way.

"Whatever he's doing is working. We're going to let Greg be Greg, let him be The Kraken."

That's because Hardy finished the regular season with 15 sacks, tying Kevin Greene's single-season team record set in 1998.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hardy has a stare that could intimidate anybody. Just ask the reporter who mentioned the black "NFC South Division Champs" cap Hardy had pulled tightly on his head on Sunday.

"You're never taking this off my head, good luck with that one," Hardy said.

Hardy doesn't just intimidate opponents. He's practicing with such intensity lately that Rivera said "it's almost scary" for Carolina players who have to face him.

"There's something that has kind of clicked in him right now," Rivera said.

As Hardy would say, the Kraken has been unleashed.

But behind the crazy comments and black contacts there's a level of intelligence that gets overlooked.

"It's weird, because people that don't know Greg maybe think he's a little short," safety Mike Mitchell said. "But Greg is one of the smartest guys on this team. Don't let him fool you. A lot of that [Kraken stuff] is created so that he is scary. It works perfectly."

Edwards agreed.

"He might fool some people, but I've had some real deep talks with Greg," he said. "He's a lot smarter than people give him credit for. There's all sorts of layers with Greg Hardy. You never know what you're going to get."

Hardy knows what he's going to get. A huge contract, whether the Panthers give him the franchise tag that would guarantee him in excess of $11.1 million next season or work out a long-term deal that will pay him more.

He might make enough to buy Hogwarts.

When pushed on the madness behind his nickname, he admitted it's more of a "mode than a persona."

"[As] I see it, something tells me I've got to flip the switch and release all the bad stuff that is outside, the bills, the accidents, the tragedies and the things that happen every day to everybody else," said Hardy, who missed most of the 2011 preseason because he was in a motorcycle accident. "I've got to let it go and get locked into details."

That's when he becomes "The Kraken" -- who also emerges when an opposing player ticks Hardy off, as one of the Falcons did on Sunday.

"I've seen situations where guys want to talk to trash to him," Edwards said. "I don't think that's what they want, to get him mad or upset and on a mission. When he goes [into Kraken mode], he turns it on and it's full go."

There also are marketing reasons behind the alias.

"To sell T-shirts, make it a person," Hardy said. "That's all I'm saying."

Having your head coach refer to you by the name doesn't hurt. Rivera even stopped by Hardy's locker on Wednesday to say he dominated his cereal without a spoon that morning.

"Yeah, it's more than a sign," Hardy said of having his alter-ego acknowledged by the head coach. "It's a warning [to the league]."

Beware of "The Kraken."
Star LotuleleiGetty ImagesStar Lotulelei and the Panthers' front four will bring pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Two teams battling for playoff positioning will face off Sunday when the Carolina Panthers travel to play the Miami Dolphins.

Carolina (7-3) is one of the hottest teams in the NFL behind a stout defense and improved play from quarterback and MVP candidate Cam Newton. The Dolphins (5-5) have fought through off-the-field distractions to win two of their past three games and are just a tiebreaker behind the New York Jets for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

Who will prevail? ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in.

James Walker: This looks like a game of matchups. One that looks concerning from Miami's perspective is Carolina's aggressive, physical defense against the Dolphins' inconsistent offense. The Dolphins are still searching for an offensive identity 10 games into their season. There is nothing they do particularly well on that side of the football: Miami is ranked 20th in passing and 24th in rushing. In fact, the Dolphins haven't scored more than 27 points in a game all season.

Is Carolina's defense as good as advertised? What kind of challenge can Miami's offense expect?

David Newton: It's hard to argue the numbers Carolina's defense has put up, particularly against the run, allowing just 84.5 yards per game. The front seven is as good as there is at making a game one-dimensional and forcing teams to pass; the defensive line can apply pressure on the quarterback, which allows seven, and sometimes eight, to drop back into coverage. It's really an unselfish group that is working as well together as any unit I've seen this season. The return of defensive tackle Dwan Edwards from a hamstring injury three weeks ago has added a more consistent third-down inside pass rush and made this unit even stronger. The defense that helped the 2003 Panthers get to the Super Bowl was good, but I believe this one is better.

The Dolphins bounced back from the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a solid effort at San Diego. Has this team put the off-the-field issues behind it completely?

Walker: I wouldn't say completely, because the investigation is ongoing. I don't see an end to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga for at least several more weeks, if not longer. The NFL spent a lot of time at the Dolphins' training facility this week to try to get to the bottom of things, and the NFLPA will reportedly do its own investigation soon.

I thought Miami handled this situation better against San Diego, and it showed in the Dolphins' preparation. Miami put together a focused effort to pick up a big win. I think the team was a bit shell-shocked by the circumstances and the amount of media scrutiny leading up to the Tampa Bay game when everything first came out. It's really going to be a week-to-week scenario with the Dolphins as this investigation unfolds.

Carolina is coming off a short week of preparation after winning a thriller against the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football." Is this a concern, especially going on the road, where the Panthers are 3-2?

Newton: The short week shouldn't be a problem. They had a Thursday night game a few weeks ago at Tampa and played well for having only a few days of preparation. The coaching staff has really gotten into a groove with knowing when to go hard and when to back off in practice. From a defensive standpoint, because they don't rely on a lot of fancy formations with the front four so solid, it really just comes down to tweaking things for individual matchups.

The biggest issue might be from wear and tear. They played three games in a span of 12 days a few weeks ago, and they're coming off consecutive games against San Francisco and New England, elite teams that really get after you.

Speaking of physical teams, what problems will Miami's defense cause Newton and the Carolina offense?

Walker: Miami's defense has been an enigma. There is talent and depth, especially in the front seven, but the defense hasn't lived up to its potential. The Dolphins' best chance to rattle Newton is to stop Carolina's running game and make the Panthers one-dimensional. That's a tall order. I thought Miami's defense had the talent on paper to be top 10 against the run, but that's far from the case. The Dolphins are 25th against the run.

But in games when the Dolphins have earned a second-half lead, their pass rush has been able to cause problems. Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake is healthy again and back to his old self; he has four sacks in his past three games and 6.5 overall. Fellow defensive end Olivier Vernon (5.5 sacks) has been a pleasant surprise. The Dolphins have four players with three sacks or more this season. They have the ability to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback. But the Dolphins haven't had enough leads late in games.

David, one area in which Carolina has struggled is its 28th-ranked passing offense. How can the Panthers improve?

Newton: Carolina's ranking is a bit misleading. The key number is Newton's efficiency. He's completing a much higher percentage of passes -- 63.2 -- than in his previous two seasons. He's also throwing more short passes as the offense goes with more ball control. He's more or less taking what defenses are giving him better than he has before. Because the Panthers are so balanced in rushing and passing, Newton's passing yards are down. But they have deep threats when they need them in Steve Smith and Ted Ginn. They just haven't needed them because, for most of the past two months, they've been getting big leads and running more.

James, my last question to you is, do you believe the Dolphins are a playoff team?

Walker: The Dolphins feel confident because they are still in the hunt. They are just a tiebreaker behind the Jets, and the teams still have two games against one another. But I haven't seen any consistency from Miami since its 3-0 start. Since then, the Dolphins have gone 2-5, so there isn't much reason to believe they can go 5-1 or 4-2 down the stretch to get into the playoffs. Miami has a huge three-week stretch ahead, with Carolina and games at the Jets and at Pittsburgh. All of these games are going to be tough.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards officially were ruled out for the Carolina Panthers for Thursday night's game at Tampa Bay.

Coach Ron Rivera said on Wednesday the plan remains to take Stewart (right ankle) off the physically unable to perform list next week if he continues to show positive progress and activate him for the Nov. 3 home game against Atlanta.

Edwards will miss his fifth straight game with a hamstring injury, but Rivera is encouraged by his progress.

Quintin Mikell will start again at strong safety even though rookie Robert Lester is healthy for the second straight week. Rivera continues to review the left cornerback position, but it appears he will go with rookie Melvin White over Josh Thomas.

Thomas, whose only missed start this season was because of a concussion suffered at Buffalo in Week 2, was beaten deep on two plays in Sunday's 30-15 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

"Melvin White has done a really nice job,'' Rivera said. "JT (Thomas) is struggling with it right now.''

Wide receiver Steve Smith was on Wednesday's injury report after having his foot stepped on during a light workout, but he will play.

Lester, Barner, Edwards doubtful

October, 11, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Starting strong safety Robert Lester missed his third straight day of practice on Friday with a hamstring injury, making him doubtful for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Minnesota.

The undrafted rookie, who spent the first two weeks of the season on the practice squad, has an interception in each of the last two games since becoming the starter. He would be replaced by veteran Quintin Mikell.

"We'll how Robert is [Saturday], how many reps he takes,'' coach Ron Rivera said. "We'll take Robert off to side and see how he handles it, see how he wakes up Sunday morning.

"If he's ready to go, I'll start Robert. I want to keep playing hot hand of young guys right now.''

Mikell began the season as the starter, but injured his ankle in a Week 2 loss at Buffalo. Lester was called up from the practice squad. He has played so well that Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said he would remain the starter even with Mikell back.

Lester seemed confident all week he would play Sunday, but if not Rivera thinks Mikel is ready.

"I really liked what I saw from Quinton those first two games,'' Rivera said.

Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (hamstring) looks like he'll miss his third straight start. He'll be replaced again by Colin Cole.

Rookie running back Kenjon Barner is listed as doubtful after the pain in the foot that kept him out of the first three games resurfaced.

Injury update: Carolina Panthers

October, 3, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- End Greg Hardy missed his second day of practice with a fever. Tackle Kawann Short missed practiced with an ankle injury. Tackle Dwan Edwards, who hasn't practiced in almost three weeks, was out again with a hamstring injury.

The numbers were thin on the Carolina Panthers defensive line on Thursday, but coach Ron Rivera is confident he'll have at least Hardy and Short back on Friday and ready for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Rivera said the four-man rotation at tackle shouldn't change much from what it was in a 38-0 victory against the Giants with Colin Cole likely to start if Edwards is out.

He did say Hardy might play a little more at tackle, but that will depend on schemes and what Arizona is doing.

Blackburn officially ahead of Beason

October, 2, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians called the Carolina Panthers linebackers the best group "that I've seen in a while." Quarterback Carson Palmer called them the best "linebacking corps in the league."

Blackburn
That would be group of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Chase Blackburn.

Jon Beason, who began the season as the starter at weakside linebacker, has officially been replaced by Blackburn. We knew that after the three-time Pro Bowl player took only one snap in a 38-0 victory over the New York Giants.

But until Wednesday, coach Ron Rivera had said only that the position was being evaluated and the best player would be on the field.

"Right now, Chase has got the lead," Rivera said as he prepared for Sunday's game at Arizona. "A big part of it is Chase is a little more comfortable at it right now. Jon is still trying to get back in football shape."

Beason started the first two games, but after struggling at the end of the opener against Seattle and throughout the second game at Buffalo it became apparent he hadn't fully regained the explosiveness after undergoing offseason microfracture knee surgery.

Blackburn, who didn't play a defensive snap in the first two games, stepped in against the Giants and more than held his own.

"It's the way it works in this league," said Blackburn, who left the Giants after last season to sign with Carolina. "You just have to make the most of the opportunity."

Now it's Beason's turn to make the most of the opportunities he gets and try and work himself back into the rotation.

"He's handled it well," Rivera said of Beason. "He's a professional. He knows his opportunity is going to come again, and he'll continue to do things he's asked. He'll get opportunities to get back on the field, and I expect him to take advantage of those opportunities."

Injury updates: Defensive end Greg Hardy was sent home Wednesday with a fever but is expected to return Thursday. ... Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards still is struggling with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the last game. He was held out of practice and has to be questionable at this point. ... Defensive tackle Kawann Short rolled an ankle in practice and was limited but expected to be all right.

Stewart looks fast in PUP list comeback

September, 30, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than a few people noticed when Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart ran at close to full speed down the sideline during Monday's practice.

Stewart
It was the first time the former first-round pick out of Oregon tested his ankles like that since undergoing offseason surgery.

"And that was exciting,'' coach Ron Rivera said.

Said Stewart, who has struggled in particular with rehabbing the right ankle, "As good as it's felt in a while.''

So could Stewart be ready to come off the physically unable to perform list in two weeks and be ready for the Oct. 20 home game against the St. Louis Rams? Neither Stewart nor Rivera wanted to get too far ahead of themselves, but Monday's workout was encouraging.

"I'm on the coaching side,'' Rivera said. "We get excited about things. [Head trainer] Ryan Vermillion and his people, they've got to be realistic about it.

"But it was really nice to see him go full ... I shouldn't say full speed, but really open up.''

A healthy Stewart would open up a Carolina offense that already ranks third in the NFL in rushing with DeAngelo Williams carrying the bulk of the load (291 yards).

A healthy Stewart could mean a return to the days when Williams and Stewart were nicknamed "Double Trouble.''

Rivera said there have been times already this season where Williams could have used a break on long drives. He also reminded that "everything is eyeing to the postseason,'' so the Panthers (1-2) don't necessarily have to rush Stewart back. A more realistic chance of seeing Stewart might be in Week 8 or 9.

On target to return this week against Arizona is another former Oregon running back, Kenjon Barner, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the preseason finale.

Barner definitely will be used to spell Williams and give Carolina a different look with his breakaway speed.

"He's a very diverse football player,'' Rivera said of this year's sixth-round pick. "He has the ability to run the football and catch it, and he's learned how to pass protect. A lot of [how he's used] has to do with play calling and the flow.''

Not good enough: Much of the attention before a 38-0 victory over the New York Giants was on how well Carolina practiced after an 0-2 start.

Monday's first workout after the bye weekend wasn't that good.

"Practice was good, but it wasn't good enough, and I let them know that at the end,'' Rivera said. "They did some really good things, but as we talked about, to win football games we've got to practice the whole way.''

That may be especially true coming into a game against a 2-2 Arizona team that had to rally to beat winless Tampa Bay on Sunday.

"We've just got to make sure everybody is on the same page, everybody is pushing, because we have a chance to build momentum coming off a win,'' Rivera said.

Injury updates: Starting left cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) has been cleared to play this week after being held out against New York. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) and safety Quintin Mikell (ankle), who also missed the Giants game, were not in pads on Monday and did not practice in full. They will be evaluated again on Wednesday.

Panthers move up during bye week

September, 30, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A member of the Carolina Panthers staff joked last week that he'd never heard an NFL head coach say it was a bad time to have a bye week.

Sure enough, coach Ron Rivera said Week 4 was a good time for the Panthers (1-2) to have a bye.

Here are four reasons why:

You can't lose: Not to be a smart aleck, but when you don't play you can't lose. The Panthers actually moved into sole possession of second place in the NFC South thanks to losses by Atlanta (1-3) to New England and Tampa Bay (0-4) to Arizona. A loss by the New Orleans Saints (3-0) against Miami (3-0) on Monday night and they could close the gap on first.

But they did lose ground in that only five NFC teams had a better record going into Week 4 and seven do now.

Time to heal: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards got another week to heal a thigh injury that sidelined him for Week 3. The Panthers need Edwards to maintain the solid rotation they want on the line. It also basically gave linebacker Jon Beason, who seems to be missing a step since returning from offseason knee surgery, a two-week break. He was in for only one play against the New York Giants. Cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) and safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) also should be back this week.

Evaluation: The early break gives the coaching staff a week to break down everything that they've done right and wrong, and correct those things before they get too deep into the season.

Head start: Not that Arizona is lighting it up at 2-2, but the break gives the Panthers an extra week to prepare for the Cardinals. The only way the 38-0 victory over the Giants means anything is to follow it up with another victory. That didn't happen a year ago when Carolina lost five straight after improving to 1-1.

Panthers: Thomas out; Edwards in doubt

September, 20, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers will be without starting cornerback Josh Thomas and possibly starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards on Sunday against the New York Giants.

That's not good news for an 0-2 team that will face quarterback Eli Manning and the league's top passing game.

Team officials said on Friday that Thomas was not cleared by doctors after suffering a concussion in Sunday's 24-23 loss at Buffalo. Thomas practiced on Thursday and Friday and, according to coach Ron Rivera, passed all the necessary team tests.

But as Thomas wrote on Twitter:

Edwards missed his third straight day of practice on Friday with a thigh injury.

"Not looking good," said Rivera, adding a decision on Edwards' status will be made on Saturday.

If Edwards can't play, Colin Cole will start beside rookie Star Lotulelei.

Rivera left it open that either veteran Drayton Florence or Josh Norman would start on the left side for Thomas. Florence was signed on Wednesday night after being among the final cuts in the preseason.

Norman has been fighting through a deep thigh bruise and sprained knee.

Safety Quintin Mikell (ankle), corner D.J. Moore (foot) and running back Kenjon Barner (foot) already have been ruled out. Backup corner James Dockery (thumb/shoulder) will be a game-time decision.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards missed his third straight day of practice on Friday and is in doubt for Sunday's 1 p.m. game against the New York Giants.

Edwards
"Not looking good," coach Ron Rivera said on Friday.

Edwards has been battling a thigh injury. Rivera said a decision on his status will be made on Saturday. If Edwards can't play Colin Cole will start beside rookie Star Lotulelei.

The good news is starting left cornerback Josh Thomas practiced for the second straight day after suffering a concussion on Sunday against Buffalo.

Thomas still has to be cleared by doctors, but Rivera said the third-year player has passed all the required team tests and he is optimistic he'll be cleared by the league.

If not cleared, Rivera left it open that either veteran Drayton Florence or Josh Norman would start. Florence was signed on Wednesday night after being among the final cuts in the preseason.

Safety Quintin Mikell (ankle), corner D.J. Moore (foot) and running back Kenyon Barner (foot) already have been ruled out. Backup corner James Dockery (thumb/shoulder) will be a game-time decision.

Injury report: DT Edwards questionable

September, 19, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is concerned that starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards won't be ready for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.

Edwards missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday with a thigh injury. It is the same injury that had Edwards limited the week before the opener, in which he played.

"Yes there is [a concern],'' Rivera said. "He's an older guy. Nagging thing. He was limited as far as running around. What you're hoping for is tomorrow he runs around and tells you it doesn't grab.''

The good news is cornerbacks Josh Thomas (concussion) and Josh Norman (deep thigh bruise) returned to practice on a limited basis. Thomas still hasn't been cleared by doctors to play, but he remains optimistic.

Rivera indicated that if Thomas isn't cleared, Drayton Florence will start at left cornerback. The veteran was among the final cuts in training camp after starting most of the preseason, but re-signed on Wednesday night.

Rivera said strong safety Quintin Mikell and backup running back Kenjon Barner are out for the Giants. He said rookie Robert Lester will start at strong safety with Mike Mitchell moving from strong to free safety to replace Charles Godfrey, who was put on injured reserve with a torn Achilles.

Edwards to play; Mitchell, Silatolu out

September, 8, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The good news for the Carolina Panthers is starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards is active.

Edwards was listed as questionable on Friday with a thigh injury, but was cleared to play. Look for Edwards and former Seahawks Colin Cole to rotate.

The bad news -- but not a surprise -- is starting strong safety Mike Mitchell and starting left guard Amini Silatolu are inactive.

Veteran Quintin Mikell, signed on Monday, will start at strong safety and Chris Scott is expected to make his first NFL start at guard. But look for veteran Travelle Wharton and Scott to play that position by committee.

Carolina's inactives are: RB Kenyon Barner, LCB James Dockery, C Brian Folkerts, OG Amini Silatolu, SS Mike Mitchell, WR Domenik Hixon, DE Wes Horton.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers could start a defensive tackle who has been out of the NFL since 2010, a safety who was signed on Monday and an offensive lineman who never has started -- all in Sunday's opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

Let's break it down:

• Starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) missed Friday's practice with a thigh injury. He is listed as questionable. If he can't go, the Panthers will turn to Colin Cole, an eight-year veteran who has been out of the league the past two seasons.

Cole last played for the Seahawks in 2010 before injuring an ankle toward the end of the season. He was the first player signed by new general manager Dave Gettleman.

"He had a great camp and really dedicated himself to getting back," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said on Friday. "We have that confidence he can be that guy again.''

• Strong safety Mike Mitchell (calf) is "definitely doubtful," according to Rivera. If he can't go, Carolina will start Quintin Mikell, who joined the team on Monday after being released by the Rams earlier this year for salary cap reasons.

Rivera is upbeat because Mikell is a veteran who has played in a similar scheme before.

"But also because of the guys that are around him," Rivera said. "One of the things I really like is how [free safety] Charles Godfrey has really stepped it up. The corners have gravitated towards him. And then all the linebackers [have stepped up].

"It's one of those classic things when somebody comes in to replace somebody the other 10 guys pick it up. That has been outstanding.''

• Starting left guard Amini Silatolu (hamstring) also remained sidelined and is listed as questionable. Journeyman Chris Scott and Travelle Wharton will share the load even if Silatolu can play some. Scott has begun each of the last two practices with the first unit.

Out for Sunday are reserve backup running back Kenjon Barner (foot) and backup cornerback James Dockery (thumb). Domenik Hixon (hamstring), in the mix for the third receiver spot, is questionable.

Starting fullback Mike Tolbert (hamstring) and weakside linebacker linebacker Jon Beason (knee), as well as backup tight end Ben Hartsock (foot), are good to go.

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