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Carolina Panthers

Breaking down the Panthers initial 53-man roster, 2020 edition

Myles Hartsfield

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers have turned over more than half the roster from this time in 2019, as only 23 players remain from last year's initial 53. Carolina's average age is 25.8, down from last year's initial roster at 26.1.

Here's a first look at how the position groups break down after Saturday's cut to 53 players.

Quarterbacks (3): Teddy Bridgewater, Will Grier, PJ Walker

Not surprisingly, the Panthers kept all three quarterbacks. Head coach Matt Rhule did not announce a winner in the backup competition between Grier and Walker. Both performed well at times during training camp. On Monday, Rhule said that the backup QB could change week-to-week if both Grier and Walker were on the active roster.

Running backs (3): Christian McCaffrey, Mike Davis, Trenton Cannon

Mike Davis earned his spot as the Panthers' No. 2 behind McCaffrey with a strong camp. Rhule consistently praised Davis' performance, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady said he has "no issues" giving Davis the ball. The Panthers claimed Cannon off waivers early in camp, and he beat out Reggie Bonnafon for the third running back role. Cannon will likely play a big role on special teams.

Fullback (1): Alex Armah

A sixth-round pick in 2017, Armah remains the Panthers' lone fullback. He had a rushing touchdown in limited offensive snaps last year. He's in line to receive significant reps on special teams.

Wide receivers (7): DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Pharoh Cooper, Seth Roberts, Brandon Zylstra, Keith Kirkwood

Moore, Samuel, and Anderson all solidified their spots as Bridgewater's top three targets in August. While Cooper is in line to be the Panthers' kick and punt returner, he demonstrated an ability to contribute on offense. Roberts missed time in camp with a concussion but is healthy now. Zylstra had a very strong camp, taking advantage of his opportunities to make impressive catches. Kirkwood has been out with a clavicle injury and will be sidelined for at least a few more weeks.

Tight ends (2): Chris Manhertz, Ian Thomas

With only two tight ends on the initial 53, the Panthers could add here in the coming days, especially considering Thomas is currently dealing with a toe injury. Carolina cut Temarrick Hemingway, Giovanni Ricci, and Colin Thompson on Saturday, demonstrating the club's dissatisfaction with its depth.

Offensive line (9): Russell Okung, Dennis Daley, Matt Paradis, John Miller, Taylor Moton, Greg Little, Matt Kaskey, Michael Schofield, Tyler Larsen

Carolina kept nine offensive linemen on the active roster, with four reserves behind the starting five. Daley has adapted well to his role at guard after spending his rookie year as a tackle. Rhule has consistently praised Little, a 2019 second-round pick and a key reserve behind Okung at left tackle. Schofield and Larsen each provide experience and depth. Kaskey makes the initial roster after spending most of last season on Carolina's practice squad. Guard Chris Reed is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Defensive line (9): Kawann Short, Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, Stephen Weatherly, Efe Obada, Zach Kerr, Bravvion Roy, Marquis Haynes Sr.

The Panthers will have a strong rotation up front, switching back to a 4-3 base defense this year. Rookies Brown and Gross-Matos figure to be heavy contributors. Obada can play both end and tackle, depending on the weekly matchup. Kerr, Haynes, and the rookie Roy also provide depth.

Linebacker (6): Tahir Whitehead, Shaq Thompson, Adarius Taylor, Julian Stanford, Jermaine Carter, Sam Franklin Jr.

Whitehead and Thompson will play most of the snaps at linebacker. Carter is back after making five starts for Carolina last year, but Taylor has impressed coaches since rejoining the Panthers in late July. Franklin is one of three undrafted rookies to make the team. He played for Rhule at Temple, appearing in 14 games as a true freshman.

Defensive backs (10): Tre Boston, Donte Jackson, Juston Burris, Troy Pride Jr., Jeremy Chinn, Eli Apple, Corn Elder, Kenny Robinson, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, Myles Hartsfield

While Chinn is listed as a defensive back, he'll do much more. The Panthers still have not named a starter at cornerback opposite Jackson. However, Pride, Apple, and Elder are known contenders. Draft picks Robinson and Thomas-Oliver provide depth. Robinson, in particular, flashed at times during camp. Hartsfield makes the squad as an undrafted free agent after impressing at both safety and running back during camp, giving him unique versatility.

Specialists (3): Joey Slye, Joseph Charlton, JJ Jansen

Charlton and Slye held off kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik to earn their roles as punter and kicker, respectively. Vedvik's big leg and versatility could be an option for Carolina's practice squad. One of the league's best long snappers, Jansen is back for his 12th season with the Panthers. He's played in all 16 games every year.

View headshots of the 53-man roster in numerical order after it was initially set on Saturday.

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