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Position preview: Defensive tackles

Posted Jul 15, 2013

Perhaps no position group on the roster received more of a boost this offseason than the defensive tackles.

After re-signing Dwan Edwards, who produced a career-year in 2012, to lead the unit, the Panthers drafted Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick and Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short with their second-round choice.

Both were dominant interior linemen in college, and the Panthers are hoping the pair of hog mollies – as new general manager Dave Gettleman likes to call them – will make an immediate impact as rookies.

"I have great optimism for the potential of the defensive line heading into training camp," defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "The entire position group worked with focus and intensity through the minicamp practices. We were able to observe growth with the veteran players and steady progress with the rookies."

RETURNERS

Dwan Edwards
Re-signed as an unrestricted free agent following a season in which he posted a career-high six sacks – third best among NFL defensive tackles. ... Produced 56 tackles, eight quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and three passes defensed while starting 14 games in his first season in Carolina. ... Signed with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent in 2012, just days after being released by the Buffalo Bills in the final roster cutdown.

Sione Fua
A third-round draft pick in 2011, Fua played in 13 games with one start in 2012. ... Produced 13 tackles and one forced fumble. ... Started all 11 games he played in as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Frank Kearse
Started four games and played in eight in his second season in Carolina. ... Produced eight tackles along with the first solo sack of his career, which came against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14.



ROOKIES

Star Lotulelei
The Panthers’ first-round pick – 14th overall – in the 2013 NFL Draft. ... Earned All-American honors at Utah, totaling 107 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and five passes defensed in 38 career games. ... Was a first team All-Pac 12 selection as a junior and senior. ... Transferred to Utah after one year at Snow College.

Kawann Short
The Panthers’ second-round pick – 44th overall – in the 2013 NFL Draft. ... Started all 50 games played at Purdue, recording 186 tackles, 49 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 15 passes defensed. ... Was a first team All-Big Ten selection as a senior.

Linden Gaydosh
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Calgary. ... Was selected first overall in the 2013 Canadian Football League Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats prior to signing with Carolina. ... Recorded 94.5 tackles and eight sacks in college.

Casey Walker
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Oklahoma. ... Played in 33 games with 22 starts, recording 49 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, five quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three passes defensed.

RECENTLY ROSTERED

Colin Cole
Signed as a free agent in February. ... Last played an NFL game with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. ... Was cut by the Seahawks in the final roster cutdown before the 2011 season after being declared physically unable to perform due to an injured left ankle. ... Has recorded 218 tackles, four sacks and 13 passes defensed in seven-year career.


Panthers.com is taking a position-by-position look at the 90-man roster leading up training camp, having previously profiled quarterbacks, running backs, the offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers.