NFL Nation: Corvey Irvin
Webb entered the offseason as the starter at right tackle, and stayed in that spot through the early part of training camp. Then, after the preseason opener at Carolina, the club demoted Webb to the second team behind rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.
The demotion put Webb in competition for a backup role with veterans Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton. A five-year veteran, Britton has 30 games of starting experience on his résumé, but also possesses more versatility than Webb because of his ability to kick inside to guard and center. Scott hasn’t played all preseason, and recently underwent a procedure on his knee. But the team is confident that even a dinged-up Scott is more reliable than a fully healthy Webb.
Webb possesses the physical skillset to be a starter in the NFL for several years, but lacks motivation and passion, which is a no-no for general manager Phil Emery and the new coaching regime. The new staff worked diligently to coax out the best in Webb, but couldn’t do it consistently enough for the team to feel confident in the three-year veteran, even as a backup.
Good outing, bad result: Quarterback Jordan Palmer performed well in the preseason finale against Cleveland despite little preparation after signing as an injury replacement for Matt Blanchard. But a 64.7 completion percent and a passer rating of 102.8 with a touchdown pass in his preseason debut wasn’t good enough to keep the Bears from cutting Palmer.
A big part of that was the team’s reported desire to sign a third quarterback with practice-squad eligibility. Palmer doesn’t have any practice-squad eligibility remaining.
What’s next: With the 53-man roster finalized, the Bears will start to build their practice squad. If the club wants to bring back some of the players it cut, it will have to wait until they clear waivers. The Bears will likely be looking to add a few players cut from other teams to their practice squad, too.
Bears cuts: QB: Trent Edwards, Jordan Palmer. RB: Armando Allen. OG: Dennis Temple, Edwin Williams. LB:Jerry Franklin, J.T. Thomas. WR: Brittan Golden, Terrence Toliver, Josh Lenz. OT:J'Marcus Webb, Cory Brandon. DT:Corvey Irvin, Christian Tupou. S:Tom Nelson, Brandon Hardin. LS: Brandon Hartson. CB: Demontre Hurst. TE:Fendi Onobun. FB: Harvey Unga. DE: Aston Whiteside, Josh Williams.
Note: Brandon and Irvin received injury settlements. Hardin was waived/injured, which means if he clears waivers, he’ll revert to Chicago’s injured reserve.
The Bucs signed receiver Kevin Ogletree from Dallas in a move that could have implications for the passing game and special teams. Ogletree likely will get a chance to compete with Tiquan Underwood for the third receiver spot behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
Ogletree is coming off his most productive season. He caught 32 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns. He also has experience as a kick returner, a spot where the Bucs could use an upgrade.
The Bucs also announced the release of linebacker Quincy Black. That’s not a big surprise. Black suffered nerve damage in his arm last season, and his career might be over. As previously reported, the Bucs have signed New Orleans free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who will get a chance to compete for Black’s old starting spot on the strong side.
The Bucs also announced they have re-signed defensive tackle Corvey Irvin.
Here’s the list of potential free agents for all four NFC South teams:
Atlanta Falcons. Tony Gonzalez, Brent Grimes, Sam Baker, William Moore, Will Svitek, Mike Cox, Todd McClure, Luke McCown, Christopher Owens, Mike Peterson, Garrett Reynolds, Lawrence Sidbury and Vance Walker all can become unrestricted free agents. Michael Palmer can become a restricted free agent.
Carolina Panthers. The potential unrestricted free agents are Derek Anderson, Antwan Applewhite, Gary Barnidge, Dwan Edwards, Ben Hartsock, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Louis Murphy and Mike Pollak. Richie Brockel can become an exclusive-rights free agent. Andre Neblett, Nate Ness and Jason Phillips are scheduled to become restricted free agents.
New Orleans Saints. Jermon Bushrod, Jonathan Casillas, Chase Daniel, Sedrick Ellis, Devery Henderson, Ramon Humber, Elbert Mack, Turk McBride, Will Robinson, Courtney Roby and Scott Shanle can become unrestricted free agents. Brian De La Puente, Justin Drescher, Junior Galette and Chris Ivory are scheduled to become restricted free agents. Eric Olsen and Michael Higgins can become exclusive-rights free agents.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronde Barber, Dallas Clark, Michael Bennett, E.J. Biggers, Andrew Economos, Geno Hayes, Roy Miller, Roscoe Parrish, Sammie Stroughter and Jeremy Trueblood can become unrestricted free agents. LeGarrette Blount, Jacob Cutrera, Corvey Irvin and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are scheduled to become restricted free agents.
Safety Ronde Barber, tight end Dallas Clark, defensive end Michael Bennett, cornerback E.J. Biggers, long-snapper Andrew Economos, linebacker Geno Hayes, defensive tackle Roy Miller, receiver/return man Roscoe Parrish, receiver Sammie Stroughter and tackle Jeremy Trueblood can become unrestricted free agents. Running back LeGarrette Blount, linebacker Jacob Cutrera, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin and defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim can become restricted free agents.
The good news is the Bucs have enough salary-cap room to bring back any of their own free agents that they want and there likely are several they want to keep.
Let’s start with Barber. He switched from cornerback to safety last season and continued to play at a relatively high level. The common assumption is that the Bucs want Barber back for another season. But it’s unknown at this point if Barber wants to continue playing. If he decides to retire, he needs to let the Bucs know in the next few weeks so they can begin moving in a different direction.
Bennett might be the key player on Tampa Bay’s list of free agents. In his fourth season, Bennett emerged as a decent pass-rusher (nine sacks), despite not having the injured Adrian Clayborn opposite him for most of the season. Tampa Bay has the nucleus for what could become a very good defensive line and that means it is important to re-sign Bennett and Miller.
Clark came in as a free agent last season and gave the team some help at tight end. But he wasn’t the player he was in his prime in Indianapolis and I could see the Bucs looking to bring in another tight end.
Although the Bucs are expected to overhaul the cornerback position, Biggers is one guy they may keep. In an ideal world, Biggers isn’t a guy the Bucs want in a starting role. But he can be decent as a third or fourth cornerback.
Stroughter and Trueblood are underachievers who are likely to walk as free agents.
The Atlanta Falcons continued to hold safety William Moore (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) out of practice and that means there’s a good chance both will sit out Sunday against Carolina. Chris Hope is the likely replacement if Moore can’t play. If Samuel is out, that likely means more playing time for Robert McClain and Christopher Owens.
The Panthers are listing running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) as doubtful. That means DeAngelo Williams will be the main running back. Receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) is questionable and Louis Murphy likely would start if LaFell can’t play. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist) and linebacker James Anderson (back) didn’t practice and are listed as questionable, but coach Ron Rivera indicated there is hope they’ll be able to play.
Tampa Bay defensive tackle Roy Miller was cleared to practice after sitting out the previous two days due to a head injury. Coach Greg Schiano said the Bucs will be cautious with Miller. If he can’t play, Gary Gibson and Corvey Irvin likely would take on an increased work load. Cornerback Anthony Gaitor officially was moved to the 53-man roster from injured reserve Friday afternoon.
The New Orleans Saints are relatively healthy. Only reserve offensive tackle Charles Brown (knee) and backup cornerback Corey White (knee) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game with the Giants. All the other Saints that have been listed on the injury report this week are probable.
The Falcons are listing linebacker Stephen Nicholas (ankle) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin) as questionable for the game with the Oakland Raiders. Both practiced on a limited basis Friday. With their own bye week coming after this game, I’d expect the Falcons to be cautious with Nicholas and Babineaux if they’re not close to full health. If Nicholas can’t go, veteran Mike Peterson likely would take his place. If Babineaux can’t play, the Falcons likely would start Peria Jerry and Vance Walker and get rookie Travian Robertson involved as the third member of the rotation.
The Buccaneers are relatively healthy coming out of their bye week. Defensive tackle Roy Miller (back) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with Kansas City. Miller participated in practice on a limited basis Friday after sitting out Thursday. If Miller can’t play, the Bucs likely would start Gary Gibson in his spot and use Corvey Irvin as their third defensive tackle.
Surprise move: The Panthers waived fullback Tony Fiammetta, their starter last season and the man who had the misfortune to replace fan favorite Brad Hoover. Fiammetta didn’t do a lot to endear himself to the old coaching staff and that didn’t change after Ron Rivera took over.
The Panthers recently went out and signed Jerome Felton. Presumably, Felton will move right into the starting lineup. Being the lead blocker for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could make him look pretty good.
No-brainers: The Panthers released defensive tackles Nick Hayden and Corvey Irvin, who had gotten a fair amount of playing time in recent years. That leaves them with only three defensive tackles, which was the weakest spot on the roster the last few years. There was no sense holding onto Hayden or Irvin because the Panthers already knew they weren’t the answer. This is a position where the Panthers are far from done. Although they have high hopes for rookies Terrell McClain and Sione Fua, they’ll take a look at who else around the league is available. It’s a safe bet they’ll sign a defensive tackle -- maybe two.
What’s next: In addition to defensive tackle, there’s still work to do on this roster. General manager Marty Hurney was very aggressive coming out of the lockout. Look for him to jump back into that mode quickly. The Panthers need a starting right guard after placing Garry Williams on the injured-reserve list. They could also use help at cornerback and wide receiver.
The Panthers filled his roster spot by signing DelJuan Robinson. Unless Robinson does something really surprising, Carolina could be looking at starting two rookie defensive tackles.
Terrell McClain and Sione Fua both were drafted in the third round and the initial plan was to pair McClain with Edwards in the starting lineup. The front office and coaching staff believe McClain can make a significant impact right away, but believe Fua might take a little more time to develop.
Fua’s timetable could be moved up now. Robinson was a backup with the Houston Texans in 2008 and ’09 and has made only three career starts. The other defensive tackles on Carolina’s roster are Corvey Irvin, Nick Hayden, Louis Ellis, Andre Neblett and Tommie Duhart.
Irvin and Hayden have some experience and could be in the mix to start. But the team might decide to bring in another veteran later in the preseason.
Biggest surprise: There really were no surprise cuts, so the real surprise might be who actually did make the roster. The biggest shocker is that undrafted free agent Andre Neblett still is on the roster as a defensive tackle. A Temple product, Neblett took the Panthers by surprise and allowed them to cut Corvey Irvin and Tank Tyler, who went to camp looking like they had shots at roster spots.
No-brainer: When the Panthers went through their June workouts, and even at the start of training camp, Hunter Cantwell was working as the No. 2 quarterback behind Matt Moore. A lot of fans read way too much into that and the proof came as Cantwell was cut Saturday. Although the Panthers liked the guy who spent some time on their practice squad last year, Cantwell never really had a chance. With the Panthers taking Jimmy Clausen in the second round and Tony Pike in the sixth, it was clear Cantwell’s days were numbered. Coach John Fox is a creature of habit and Cantwell got some time in the No. 2 role simply because he knew the offense. As soon as Clausen had the playbook memorized, he stepped into the backup role. That left a minor competition between Cantwell and Pike. As the draft pick, the only way Pike was going to lose out was if he had a disastrous preseason. He did not.
What’s next: In the old days, Fox and general manager Marty Hurney usually set their opening roster in stone and didn’t touch it unless there were injuries. But these aren’t the old days with Carolina deeply into a youth movement. Hurney was active at this time last year, touching up the defensive tackle jobs and he’s likely to be active in several areas this year. The Panthers don’t feel great about their linebacker depth beyond Jamar Williams. Depth at wide receiver also looks to be an area the Panthers might be looking to improve.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
When faced with injuries in the past, Carolina coach John Fox usually tells his team that a rescue isn't coming from the outside.
The Panthers better hope their coach takes a different route this time around. The thing that was most obvious in Carolina's preseason debut on Monday Night Football against the Giants was that there's a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line. We've known that since starting tackle Maake Kemoeatu went down with a season-ending injury on the first day of training camp.
Second-year pro Nick Hayden got the start in Kemoeatu's place Monday night. Let's face it, Hayden's a player the Panthers think can be a nice backup, but he's not the answer as a starter right now. The Giants ran right over the Panthers and they didn't even game plan for this one. Imagine what they would have done if this were the regular season and they wanted to exploit Carolina's problem?
Hayden's not a run stuffer and neither is fellow starter Damione Lewis. There aren't any other viable options on the roster, although the Panthers do believe rookie Corvey Irvin can develop into a decent player in a year or two.
If nothing else, Monday night provided final evidence that the Panthers need to go out and get a big body to put next to Lewis. They're not going to find a superstar this time of year, but Kemoeatu didn't fit that profile. He was just a very ordinary tackle who could take up a lot of space at 350 pounds.
The Panthers still can come out of this as good or better than they were before the Kemoeatu injury. They just need to go out and find somebody to rescue them.
|G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images|
|After recording 14.5 sacks last season, Julius Peppers said he wanted out of Carolina. The defensive end eventually agreed to play for the franchise tender.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The good news is the Carolina Panthers were 12-4 last year and return 20 of 22 starters.
"We don't have any reason to be bad," All-Pro offensive tackle Jordan Gross said.
The bad news is coming off a winning season has never led to good things for the Panthers. In their short existence (the franchise began play in 1995), the Panthers never have been able to put together back-to-back winning seasons. That's a fact that weighs heavily on the minds of owner Jerry Richardson, head coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney.
The Panthers have won big at times -- making the Super Bowl in the 2003 season and the NFC Championship Game in the 2005 season -- but they've also followed up with some massive flops. Take the 2006 season, when they were the trendy pick to win the Super Bowl after adding the supposed missing link (Keyshawn Johnson). Instead, with injuries and locker-room dysfunction playing big roles, they were one of the NFL's most disappointing teams.
Preventing that kind of downturn this year is a big theme in Carolina's camp. Like Gross said, there really is no reason for the Panthers to be bad. The only starters they're missing from last year are cornerback Ken Lucas, who was getting older and was released in a salary-cap move, and defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu, who went out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon on the first day of camp.
Other than that, the Panthers look a lot like the NFC South champions of last year.
"There's no doubt that back-to-back winning seasons is on the front burner for us this year," Hurney said. "We've always said we wanted to be consistently competitive and we have been. But the next step is to win in back-to-back years. We started this in '02 by saying we wanted to draft well, develop young players and keep your core players. That philosophy is probably more evident now than at any time since we started this in 2002. We were able to keep the core players we identified over the past year and, now, as a result, I think we need our young players to step up and fill those holes as far as backups and depth."
The Panthers have kept the nucleus of last year's team together, re-signing Gross to a huge new contract, extending the contract for quarterback Jake Delhomme and forcing defensive end Julius Peppers to play for the franchise tender. But those moves have come at a high cost.
With almost no salary-cap room, the Panthers didn't sign a single player in free agency and they watched as some key backups walked away. Depth is a question mark almost everywhere. Carolina has a very good starting lineup. But is that enough to give the Panthers back-to-back winning seasons?
"It starts with having enough depth to sustain," Hurney said. "Different things happened in different seasons in the past. But drafting well and having a young base is really important as far as staying ahead of the game and not having to go out in free agency and bring in guys a lot. If you draft well and bring those guys up, you have a continuity in there that should keep you competitive. Continuity is a result of bringing in the right guys from the start."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the likelihood of the Rams trading down from the second overall choice. General manager Billy Devaney says it's unlikely teams will find trading partners as they consider moving down from the top of the draft.
Also from Thomas: Former Rams GM Charley Armey advises against trading down from the top of the draft. Armey: "The No. 1 cardinal rule for me absolutely, without question, is do not trade out of an impact position. Because there's only a few impact players. Some years I've been in the draft, it was only around six impact players. The year Orlando Pace was in the draft , there was only about six. The year we took Torry Holt , there was about 13." He advises the Rams to draft a tackle second overall unless another team offers a blockbuster package in return for that choice.
More from Thomas: A list of 22 college players who have visited or plan to visit the Rams.
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle uses Matthew Stafford's visit to the 49ers as a vehicle for analyzing first-round quarterbacks. Knapp: "From 1970 to 1990, only seven quarterbacks were No. 1 [overall] picks, and only one was a bust, the latest one -- Jeff George in 1990. All the others made at least two Pro Bowls or won a Super Bowl. [They were Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, Steve Bartkowski, Vinny Testaverde, John Elway and Troy Aikman.] Of the eight most recent picks, only one has matched Elway, Aikman and Bradshaw's success -- Peyton Manning. Tim Couch is out of football. Michael Vick is behind bars. [Alex] Smith and David Carr have become back-ups, for now at least. [JaMarcus] Russell is unproven. Carson Palmer started off brilliantly but hasn't been able to recover from injuries."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider doesn't rule out Stafford falling all the way to the 49ers at No. 10.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee lists Bay Area college players scheduled to visit the 49ers. Cal center Alex Mack heads the list.
Floriday Danny of Niners Nation continues his pre-draft analysis by looking at draft tendencies during Bill Walsh's second run with the team, from 1999 to 2001. Walsh stockpiled picks, accumulating 27 over the three-year period.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lists the Seahawks' draft needs in this order: Defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback with size and quarterback for the future.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune summarizes Greg Knapp's comments to KJR radio's Mitch Levy. Knapp, the Seahawks' new offensive coordinator, downplayed the need for a running back. Knapp: "From my experiences of running the zone scheme, a lot of guys have had some career-best seasons in the zone scheme when they didn't have it before ... So, we feel pretty confident in what we saw in practice, and what these guys' traits are."
Also from Williams: Seattle receiver Logan Payne did not undergo knee surgery to repair a damaged MCL last season. Instead, he let the injury heal on its own. Payne said he felt good by December.
John Morgan of Field Gulls looks at running back Cedric Peerman as a potential draft choice for Seattle with the 104th overall pick. Morgan on the running backs: "Let's say this is an unusually weak running back class. A running back class comparable to last year's wide receiver class. Could the first round end without a running back selected? It would be the first time since 1963 -- the first time in the modern era. But it's not a stretch."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic lists Mel Kiper's projections for the Cardinals through four rounds of the draft. He thinks the team would be thrilled to come away with outside linebacker Larry English, running back Shonn Greene, tight end Chase Coffman and defensive tackle Corvey Irvin.
Also from Somers: He doesn't think James Harrison's deal with the Steelers will have an immediate impact on Karlos Dansby's negotiations with the Cardinals. Both are linebackers in name, but their roles are vastly different. Harrison has 24.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Dansby has 24.5 sacks during his five-year career.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with players on the fringes of the Cardinals' roster. Rodney Leisle was working for a company that sells mobile shelving units when the Cardinals called.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says Antrel Rolle is entering a critical season with Arizona. Will the former cornerback command a lucrative extension as a safety? The deal Adrian Wilson eventually signs -- assuming Wilson does re-sign with the team -- could influence how much Arizona wants to spend on the other safety spot.
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