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Panthers awarded two compensatory picks

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Brad Nortman in 2012 was the last player drafted by Carolina with a compensatory pick. PHOENIX – The Panthers were awarded two compensatory draft picks at the NFL Annual Meeting, bringing their total number of selections in the 2015 NFL Draft to nine.

Carolina was compensated for net losses in free agency with two additional choices in the fifth round - 169th overall and 174th overall. They already held the 25th choice in each of the seven rounds of the draft, scheduled for April 30-May 2.

A team losing more or better compensatory free agents – typically defined as unrestricted free agents who were on the roster during the regular season – may be awarded up to four of the 32 compensatory picks that are tacked onto the end of rounds 3-7. Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

Last year, the Panthers most notably lost wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., wide receiver Domenik Hixon, wide receiver Brandon LaFell, safety Mike Mitchell and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. They most notably signed cornerback Antoine Cason, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Ed Dickson.

Carolina has now received 16 compensatory selections in franchise history. The Panthers used their most recent compensatory pick, a sixth-rounder in 2012, to select punter Brad Nortman, the only punter the team has ever drafted.

RULES ROUNDUP: The league will announce at the conclusion of the meeting Wednesday whether any rules changes are adopted, but some principle players in the process discussed some rules that won't be changed and the impact of a recent rule change Monday.

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NFL Competition Committee chair Rich McKay said 13 of the 18 proposed rules changes involve instant replay, but his group isn't recommending that penalties be added to the list of reviewable calls.

Prominent committee member Jeff Fisher, head coach of the St. Louis Rams, said such a philosophical change would only add "another element of subjectivity." He pointed out the difficultly the league office faces every Monday reviewing whether defenseless receiver flags – or lack thereof – were properly administered.

"Oftentimes that process will take 20 to 30 minutes and sometimes an hour to determine whether or not it was in fact a foul," Fisher said.

The committee also isn't recommending a change to the so-called "Calvin Johnson rule" in the wake of the Dez Bryant catch/no-catch debate in the Dallas Cowboys' loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff but has tweaked the language.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained that in place of previous language about a receiver performing an "act common to the game" in order to establish possession before going to the ground, the new language calls for a receiver to "clearly establish himself as a runner." Blandino said in the case of Bryant, he hadn't done that because it's not possible to do so while falling to the ground to secure a catch.

"I think it really clears things up from a coach's standpoint," Fisher said. "If you're going to the ground, hold onto the ball – it's that simple and how you have to coach it."

The committee also is pleased with the overtime rule established in 2012 aimed at eliminating the importance of the coin toss. McKay said that while protecting the sudden-death element of overtime by allowing the team that wins the coin toss to win the game by scoring a touchdown, each team has gotten the ball in 42 of 49 regular season overtime games.

The coin toss winners and coin toss losers have each won 46.9 percent of the time. The numbers don't add up to 100 thanks to one tie each of the past three seasons, including the Panthers' 37-37 tie at Cincinnati in Week 6 last season.

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BLACKOUT RULE LIFTED: Coming off the first season in which the NFL didn't have to issue a local television blackout for any games, the league announced Monday it will suspend the blackout rule for the 2015 season.

The rule, which calls for games to be blacked out on local television if they aren't sold out 72 hours before kickoff, has rarely come into play for the Panthers, who have sold out 125 consecutive home games.

"We are thankful for the tremendous commitment of our fans over the years," Panthers chief revenue officer Phil Youtsey said. "With their continued assistance, we look forward to keeping the streak going."

ANOTHER CHANCE: While the annual NFL Scouting Combine gives draft-eligible players the opportunity to show that they belong, the fledgling NFL Veterans Combine offers players trying to resume their pro careers a shot at reminding scouts that they too belong.

"I'm fighting for my job for a fifth year in a row," former Panthers defensive end Thomas Keiser told azcardinals.com following the event Sunday at Arizona's practice facility. "I just have to do what I have to do to get a team to sign me."

Keiser, who played 12 games for the Panthers in 2011 and 2012, was one of five former Panthers among the 150 who took part in the combine. The others were wide receiver Joe Adams – a fourth-round draft pick who played nine games as a rookie in 2012 – as well as former practice squad members Craig Roh and Ray Dominguez and training camp participant Justin Wells.

Wide receiver Nathan Slaughter signed with the Cardinals the day after the combine, which was strategically held 30 minutes down the road from the NFL Annual Meeting.

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