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Roster reduced to 80

Posted Aug 30, 2011

CHARLOTTE - The first roster reduction of the preseason often is relatively painless, but the Panthers felt some pain Tuesday when injuries forced their hand.

The Panthers trimmed their roster to 80 players mainly by moving players to injured reserve, most notably offensive guard Geoff Schwartz.

They also waived quarterback Tony Pike after reaching an injury settlement. Pike didn't throw a pass in the preseason and recently had surgery on his injured throwing elbow.

Schwartz, expected to compete for the right guard job, suffered a hip injury during the first week of training camp and wasn't showing any signs of recovering in a timely fashion.

"That's a tough one," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "It wasn't getting better, so they're going to continue the process. He had some issues and trying to rehab it just didn't work.

"We've got to move forward, unfortunately, for this season. Hopefully, the young man can get it taken care of and be ready to go."

Wide receiver David Gettis (knee), tight end Gary Barnidge (leg/ankle) and offensive lineman Zack Williams (knee) - players who suffered significant injuries earlier in preseason – also were placed on IR. In addition, the Panthers waived/injured offensive guard Duke Robinson and released long snapper Chris Massey three days after signing him.

As painful as Tuesday's transactions were, it will only get tougher. After the Panthers conclude their preseason schedule Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they must get down to the 53-man regular season roster by Saturday.

"Some of these young men give you everything they've got, and it's tough when you tell them that you're going to go a different direction," said Rivera, whose playing days ended when the Chicago Bears cut him prior to the 1993 season. "Dave Wannstedt was the one that let me go. I asked, ‘Dave, it's not personal?' He said, ‘No Ron, this is business.'

"For whatever it was worth, it made me feel a little better, realizing it was all part of the game."

Current Carolina players competing roster spots, like veteran wide receiver David Clowney, realize that as well.

"I've been through this before, so it's nothing new," Clowney said. "With all 32 teams, there are going to be 10 to 12 receivers in camp. There's always going to be competition. It was like that in New York (with the Jets), and I was still able to make the team.

"I just go out there and focus on the things I have control over - running routes the way I'm supposed to and staying consistent. When Game 1 gets here, we'll see who is No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5."

Linebacker Thomas Williams, singled out by Rivera for his play in the preseason, is with his fifth NFL team since being drafted in 2008. Williams recognizes the difficult decisions facing the front office, but he's turning to an even higher authority as final cuts fast approach.

"I definitely lean on God and whatever his will is - that's what's most important to me," Williams said. "At the end of the day, this the business part of it. Going into my fourth year, I understand that.

"It's not a scholarship deal, so you just go as hard as you can as long as you can. That's it."