Corn Elder earns a jersey

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CHARLOTTE – When the Panthers return Tuesday following a day off to continue preparations for Sunday's regular season opener against the Cowboys, cornerback Corn Elder is supposed to show up wearing an LSU shirt.

"We've got a little shirt bet," said Elder, a former Miami standout who lost a bet with fellow corner and LSU product Donte Jackson when the Hurricanes lost to the Tigers on Sunday.

The loss no doubt stung, but it's nothing compared to the possible loss that Elder faced head-on this preseason – the loss of his Carolina Panthers jersey.

"I'm definitely happy. We had a bunch of great guys in the room; they could have picked any of those guys to make it," Elder said. "Everybody was making plays throughout OTAs, camp and into the preseason, so it's definitely a confidence boost to be able to make it over some of those guys who could have easily been here as well.

"I was just waiting to see what would happen. I felt like I gave everything I had and was just waiting on the results."

Now the Panthers, after showing faith in their 2017 fifth-round draft pick, are banking on results.

Veteran Captain Munnerlyn, the other corner to make the initial roster alongside Jackson and James Bradberry – the projected starters at outside corner – believes that the young Elder can deliver.

"I feel like he can be a great help for us and be a great football player in this league," Munnerlyn said. "He's definitely gotten better. I kind of took him under my wing and have been showing him the ropes, have been trying to be a good example for him."

Elder appears to have benefited from what Munnerlyn called a "redshirt year." Elder made the 53-man roster as a rookie as well, but he didn't play in the preseason because of a knee injury and was then put on injured reserve the day after making the regular season roster when the Panthers claimed a couple players off waivers.

"Last year definitely sucked not being able to play even in the preseason, so I'm definitely excited about this," Elder said. "The hard work paid off to get back to this point."

When Elder was drafted the plan was for the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder to work predominantly at nickel corner, being groomed to perhaps one day take over for the 5-9, 195-pound Munnerlyn. But the Panthers didn't use the nickel that much last season, and after Munnerlyn made his case with strong play this offseason for that to change, Elder started getting more looks at outside corner.

With Kevon Seymour placed on injured reserve Saturday, Elder could well be called upon as the top reserve on the outside against the Cowboys, though Carolina did reunite with cutdown casualty Lorenzo Doss on Sunday to provide another option there.

Munnerlyn doesn't think working on the outside is too big for Elder – or for himself for that matter.

"I definitely think he can do it, God forbid if anything happened to somebody on the team," Munnerlyn said. "They say some guys are too small to do that, but I did it here for a long time. And if they need my old butt to go out there, I'll do it. I can turn back the clock if I have to.

"I've worked myself into great shape by working out hard and have put myself in position where if that call happened, I'm ready to roll."

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That too is Elder's mindset.

"Just wherever I'm needed. I'll do whatever for the team – outside, inside, special teams, everything," he said. "I'll just continue working, continue getting better each day and just stay on top of things.

"We can do a lot of good things this year. We've got some great veterans who have made plenty of plays in the league and some great young guys – Donte was outstanding throughout."

And so were Donte's former college teammates Sunday – much to Elder's dismay.

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