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Carolina Panthers

Panthers set 53-man roster


CHARLOTTE - The Panthers completed the difficult task Saturday of reducing their roster to 53 players in advance of the regular season, cutting 24 players in the process.

In addition, Carolina placed offensive lineman Garry Williams on injured reserve (IR) with a broken left ankle suffered in Thursday's preseason finale. The Panthers also placed cornerback Brandon Hogan on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Hogan, a rookie out of West Virginia recovering from a knee injury, still could play this season but would not be eligible to return until the team's seventh game at the earliest.

Saturday's cuts included running back Tyrell Sutton, who spent the past two seasons with the Panthers. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden, who started 10 games in 2011, and fellow defensive tackle Corvey Irvin – who shined early in training camp – also were among the casualties.

In the heated race for roster spots at wide receiver, special teams standouts Wallace Wright and Charly Martin didn't make the cut. David Clowney, who hauled in a 41-yard touchdown catch in Thursday's game, did make the team.

Cuts also included linebacker Lawrence Wilson, a rookie out of Connecticut drafted in the sixth round. Wilson was the lone 2011 Panthers' draft pick among eight to be waived, though two others aren't on the 53-man roster. Hogan (a fourth-rounder) was put on the PUP list, and offensive lineman Zack Williams (a sixth-rounder) previously was placed on IR with a knee injury.

Head coach Ron Rivera, facing the task of telling players that they hadn't made the team for the first time in his coaching career, spoke earlier in the week about how he planned to handle it.

"We'll get an opportunity to visit with them, talk with them, listen to them a little bit, and give them a little advice," Rivera said. "I went through it (as a player), and it's not easy. For nine seasons, I always felt like people are always on eggshells.

"Now as a head coach, it is a little bit different because you're the guy that's actually going to talk to them and look them in the eye and say, 'Hey, look, this is the way it is.' It's difficult, it really is."

CB C.J. Wilson 4 Baylor
WR Wallace Wright 5 North Carolina
WR Darvin Adams R Auburn
OT Jacob Bender 3 Nicholls State
CB Kendric Burney R North Caorlina
DE Ugo Chinasa R Oklahoma State
FB Tony Fiammetta 3 Syracuse
C John Gianninoto R UNLV
S Michael Greco 1 Central Florida
DT Nick Hayden 3 Wisconsin
DT Corvey Irvin 2 Georgia
CB Chevis Jackson 4 Louisiana State
K Adi Kunalic R Nebraska
WR Charly Martin 3 West Texas A&M
CB Robert McClain 2 Connecticut
C Ryan Pugh R Auburn
DT DelJuan Robinson 3 Mississippi State
TE Greg Smith R Texas
RB Tyrell Sutton 3 Northwestern
DE Malcolm Tatum R Louisville
RB Josh Vaughan 1 Richmond
LB Sean Ware 1 New Hampshire
WR Jamorris Warren R Central Missouri
LB Lawrence Wilson R Connecticut
OT Garry Williams 3 Kentucky
CB Brandon Hogan R West Virginia

In addition to the five drafted rookies that made the roster – quarterback Cam Newton, defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain, wide receiver Kealoha Pilares and offensive tackle Lee Ziemba – three undrafted rookies are on the roster. Offensive linemen Byron Bell and Bryant Browning survived the cut, as did defensive end Thomas Keiser.

Those who made it have reason to celebrate but can't afford to rest on their laurels. Across the NFL, more than 800 players have been cut over the last two days, and the Panthers could consider acquiring a few of them Sunday and Monday, in addition to signing an eight-man practice squad.

"We have to look at everything, not just our 53 but our practice squad players as well and what potentially could be out there," Rivera said Thursday. "We will most certainly have to be diligent as the waiver wires hit, and in our selecting process we will have to be very efficient."

The positions that seem least settled are defensive tackle, cornerback and offensive line.

The Panthers kept just three defensive tackles – Fua, McClain and second-year pro Andre Neblett – whereas most teams carry at least four. They have just three cornerbacks – Chris Gamble, Captain Munnerlyn and R.J. Stanford – but do have five safeties.

The Panthers did keep a typical number of offensive linemen (nine), but three are rookies, leaving them with little experienced depth behind the starters.

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