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Panthers snap-count analysis: Cornerback

2/12/2015

An look at how the Carolina Panthers distributed playing time among cornerbacks during the 2014 season.

Analysis: That the leader in snap counts was cut late in the season says it all. This position was more in a state of flux than any on defense, due in part to ineffectiveness and in part to injuries. The season began with Antoine Cason and Melvin White as the starters. Cason was a free agent signed to replace Captain Munnerlyn, who went to Minnesota in free agency, and White was a returning starter. Cason was released on Dec. 2, two days after being benched in a loss at Minnesota that saw Carolina’s losing streak extended to six. Josh Norman replaced White after a 28-10 loss at Baltimore. He suffered a concussion the next week in a win against Chicago, forcing him to sit out two games before returning full time. He became as close to a shutdown corner as the Panthers had, and brought a much-needed attitude to the group. Rookie Bene' Benwikere started the season as a nickel cornerback before a severe ankle sprain in the fifth game kept him out of the lineup for four games. He moved into an every-down cornerback position when Cason was released, and the Panthers won five straight before losing to Seattle in a divisional playoff game. Colin Jones moved into the nickel spot and played well down the stretch. Again, the snaps show just how unsettled this position was. The good news is those who finished the season all return. The Panthers might look for a taller, faster cornerback to replace Benwikere, who they like more as the nickel cornerback. But there isn’t the sense of urgency to do so that there was before a strong finish.