CHARLOTTE – Familiarity with Norv Turner's offense was a big boost for Taylor Heinicke, who's emerged as the winner for the backup quarterback job.
Heinicke, who first connected with Turner in Minnesota, edged out Garrett Gilbert, who became one of 20 moves the Panthers made Saturday as they cut their roster down to 53.
"You never know what’s going to happen in this league. I wasn’t expecting anything and I was kind of preparing for the worst," said Heinicke, who finished the preseason 24-of-36 for 323 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a rushing score. "But walking in this morning and being told the news was definitely exciting.
"I don’t want to say my job has changed, but it kind of has. It’s a different responsibility and I’m excited for it. I have to prepare every week like I’m going to play and also give the defense a good look for whoever we are playing on scout team."
Also among those waived was 2017 third-round defensive end Daeshon Hall. The Panthers instead elected to keep ends Bryan Cox Jr., who appeared in seven games as an undrafted rookie last season, and Efe Obada. The Nigerian-born Obada, who was once abandoned in the streets of London, is one of the first players from the NFL's International Pathway Program to make an active roster. The other is Jordan Mailata, a former rugby star in Australia who's made the Eagles' roster.
The Panthers also chose to keep six wide receivers, a list that included Damiere Byrd but not Mose Frazier. He led the NFC with three touchdown receptions this preseason, but Byrd brings a speed boost and return skills the Panthers covet.
Three players were placed on injured reserve: running back Elijah Hood, cornerback Kevon Seymour and offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles. Hood hurt his knee in Thursday night's preseason game at Pittsburgh, Seymour has been out for a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury and Sirles pulled a hamstring in preseason game No. 3 against the Patriots.
In other notable moves, the Panthers traded for offensive tackle Corey Robinson and linebacker Thomas Davis was officially placed on the suspended list.
Saturday's Roster Moves
|TE||Jason Vander Laan||Waived|
|DE||Zach Moore||Terminated Vested Veteran|
|S||Dezmen Southward||Terminated Vested Veteran|
View headshots of every player on the roster entering the new season.