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Carolina Panthers

Notebook: Panthers still looking at options for punt returns

DJ Moore

CHARLOTTE — After releasing wide receiver David Moore Wednesday afternoon, the Panthers are without an obvious answer at punt returner.

And the short answer from Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is that they're still working on it.

Rhule said there are a few internal options to return punts against the Jets, but also mentioned the roster as being "fluid" this time of year, suggesting another move could come in the next few days.

"We'll continue to look for the next day or two," Rhule said.

He mentioned that wide receiver Brandon Zylstra has the capability to return punts, along with wideout C.J. Saunders, who was among the 12 players added to the practice squad Wednesday after being in camp here.

Starting receiver DJ Moore had lobbied for a chance at the job (and was always among the returners during training camp when the roster was at 90), and Rhule said he'd consider it if they were ever in a spot in which they needed a big play.

"I have tremendous faith in C.J. I know he could go back there in a second; it's just how it fits with other guys," Rhule said. "Zylstra's also someone we've trained, and DJ has been asking to do it. . . .

"We'll continue to look at that situation, but C.J. proved a lot to us the other night (against the Steelers) in terms of catching punts in a game."

— Rhule said the team saw some athletic traits they liked in waiver claim guard Michael Jordan, but didn't think he'd play an immediate role. The Panthers already had nine offensive linemen, all of whom went to camp here and know the system.

Jordan, a former fourth-round pick from Ohio State, started 19 games for the Bengals the last two years, so he has some experience.

An offensive lineman's job is more complicated than others, so Rhule said they wanted to see Jordan in person (he's scheduled to arrive in time to practice Thursday) before they tried to determine a role.

"Get him here and see how quickly he can pick up on what we're doing," Rhule said. "If he can help us in the middle, late part of the year, great. If he has real talent, we don't need him, but we can develop him for the future; that developmental process is what our whole football staff and scouting staff have tried to take. Get him here see what the vision is moving forward."

— The Panthers have four practice squad spots open at the moment, and Rhule said they wanted to add a quarterback, so they'd have three for practice as much as an emergency plan if something happened to Sam Darnold or P.J. Walker.

"We're now looking for someone who knows this system previously, or someone during the draft process we were around who we thought was smart and can learn pretty quickly," Rhule said. "We'll bring someone in and train them as fast as possible, and hope that our two guys stay healthy above."

Rhule said the team would have loved to have brought Will Grier back on the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by the Cowboys.

— Rhule said that after cuts, the Panthers only had two unvaccinated players among the 69 active roster and practice squad slots.

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