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Carolina Panthers

Panthers set 53-man roster in 2012


CHARLOTTE - With the necessary roster cuts now complete, the Panthers have set their 53-man roster for the regular season.

"We feel we had very good competition. Some of the cuts were very hard," general manager Marty Hurney said. "But we feel like we have a good mix of veterans and young players, and now it's time to get ready for the season opener."

The wide receiver position was a source of heated competition throughout training camp and the preseason, with Armanti Edwards among the six to earn a roster spot. This season will be his third with the Panthers.

"Armanti had a very good training camp, and he played well in the preseason games," Hurney said. "He's got excellent hands, he's got very good speed and he continues to get better. There's a dramatic difference between him now and last year.

"He earned that spot."

Other competing wideouts Seyi Ajirotutu, Jared Green and Lamont Bryant were cut. Ajirotutu has two years of NFL experience. Green and Bryant joined Carolina as undrafted rookies.

Running backs Tauren Poole and Armond Smith also were cut. Poole (ribs) and veteran cornerback Darius Butler (concussion) were waived/injured. Butler played his first two seasons with the New England Patriots before joining the Panthers and starting six games last season.

Two other defensive veterans - linebacker Jason Williams and safety Reggie Smith - also were left off the roster. Williams spent the last two seasons in Carolina after two years with the Dallas Cowboys. Smith was signed in the offseason after four years with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Panthers acquired safety Colin Jones from the San Francisco 49ers for a 2014 late-round draft pick Friday, a move that made it difficult to find room for Smith.

"It was a numbers thing with Reggie," Hurney said. "He did a very good job, but it just came down to the fact we had chance to get an excellent special teams player in Colin Jones and we had a good young player in D.J. Campbell.

"As far as Darius Butler, young corners like Josh Thomas and Josh Norman probably decided that as far as the way they've played. We feel good about those guys."

Defensive tackle Andre Neblett is on the roster but is on the suspended list for the first four weeks of the regular season. He will not count against the 53-man limit until Week 5.

All of the Panthers' seven draft choices made the roster. None of the Panthers' undrafted rookie free agents made the cut.

S Reggie Smith 5 Oklahoma
WR Seyi Ajirotutu 3 Fresno State
G Bryant Browning 1 Ohio State
WR Lamont Bryant R Morgan State
CB Darius Butler 4 Connecticut
DT Nate Chandler R UCLA
TE Joe Jon Finley 1 Oklahoma
WR Jared Green R Southern
S Jonathan Nelson 1 Oklahoma
LB David Nixon 4 Brigham Young
DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo 4 Michigan State
RB Tauren Poole R Tennessee
S Jordan Pugh 3 Texas A&M
T Matt Reynolds R Brigham Young
TE Nelson Rosario R UCLA
RB Armond Smith 2 Union College (Ky.)
CB R.J. Stanford 2 Utah
DE Ryan Van Bergen R Michigan
G Justin Wells 1 St. Augustine's
LB Jason Williams 4 Western Illinois
G Zack Williams 2 Washington State
LB Kion Wilson 3 South Florida

Here's a position-by-position look at the roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen
No surprises here. The NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year remains at the controls, while Anderson looked good most of the preseason and Clausen finished strong.

RUNNING BACKS (3): DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert
"Double Trouble" welcomes bruiser Tolbert, who will be much more than a third wheel at fullback. Tauren Poole and Armond Smith had strong preseasons, but Poole is injured, and there just wasn't enough room on the roster for Smith.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy, Kealoha Pilares, Armanti Edwards, Joe Adams
Edwards, a star quarterback out of nearby Appalachian State, is the one wideout considered to be on the bubble throughout the preseason to survive the cut. David Gettis, on the Physically Unable to Perform list, could still fit into the mix midseason.

TIGHT ENDS (4): Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, Ben Hartsock, Richie Brockel
Barnidge will be counted on to catch some balls and help keep do-everything Olsen fresh. Hartsock and Brockel will block everything in sight.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Jordan Gross, Ryan Kalil, Geoff Hangartner, Byron Bell, Amini Silatolu, Garry Williams, Bruce Campbell, Mike Pollak, Jeff Byers
Four starters from last season and second-round draft pick Silatolu form a formidable front five. Williams and Campbell will provide crucial depth at tackle, while Pollak and Byers can play guard or center.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy, Thomas Keiser, Antwan Applewhite, Frank Alexander
Johnson is the leader, while Hardy continues to work on becoming his bookend. Keiser and Alexander are blossoming, and Applewhite is a steady and versatile veteran.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Ron Edwards, Terrell McClain, Sione Fua, Frank Kearse
The Panthers obviously are thrilled to have a healthy Edwards, flanked by a trio of developing second-year players. Don't forget about Andre Neblett, who finished last season strong but will start this season on the suspended list.

LINEBACKERS (7): Jon Beason, James Anderson, Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Jordan Senn, Jason Phillips, Kenny Onatolu
Four dynamic players top the position, with savvy veterans in Senn and Phillips always ready when called upon. Onatolu, recovering from a hamstring injury, is a special teams stalwart.

CORNERBACKS (4): Chris Gamble, Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Norman, Josh Thomas
One of the most competitive positions claimed Darius Butler and R.J. Stanford in cuts. Thomas won his spot with impressive play throughout the preseason.

SAFETIES (5): Charles Godfrey, Haruki Nakamura, Sherrod Martin, Colin Jones, D.J. Campbell
Another position where there wasn't room for several talented players. Jones has been brought in to shore up all areas of special teams; Campbell is a rookie who will try to learn to do the same.

SPECIALISTS (3): Justin Medlock, Brad Nortman, JJ Jansen
This position was set during the first round of cuts. Medlock and Nortman have one played in one regular season game between them but have live legs. Jansen at long snapper should be a steadying influence.

Staff writer Max Henson and senior writer Bryan Strickland contributed to this report.

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