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Panthers trim roster to 53


CHARLOTTE - The Panthers made some difficult decisions Saturday in reducing their roster to 53 in advance of their regular season opener in eight days.

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver David Gettis were among four players waived/injured, and cornerback Drayton Florence was among a trio of terminated vested veterans.

Carolina drafted Clausen in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He started 10 games as a rookie but has not appeared in a game since.

Gettis was a sixth-round draft choice in 2010. He played 15 games and recorded 37 catches as a rookie before missing the 2011 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He appeared in only two games in 2012 due to a hamstring injury.

The Panthers opted to keep 10 offensive linemen. among them invited tryout Brian Folkerts. They also kept a pair of undrafted rookie free agents in defensive end Wes Horton and cornerback Melvin White.

Tight end Brandon Williams, a product of the fledgling NFL regional combine program and who played college basketball more recently than college football, also made the team.

WR Brenton Bersin 1 Wofford College
T Garrett Chisolm 1 South Carolina
TE Dominique Curry 3 California (Pa.)
DT Sione Fua 3 Stanford
G Hayworth Hicks 2 Iowa State
LB Doug Hogue 3 Syracuse
WR Taulib Ikharo 1 Louisiana Tech
LB Ben Jacobs 2 Fresno State
S Robert Lester R Alabama
G Tori Mobley R Jacksonville State
TE Zack Pianalto 2 North Carolina
RB Tauren Poole 2 Tennessee
DE Craig Roh R Michigan
WR James Shaw 1 Jacksonville State
DT Casey Walker R Oklahoma
S D.J. Campbell 1 California
QB Jimmy Clausen 4 Notre Dame
WR David Gettis 4 Baylor
S Anderson Russell 3 Ohio State
T Patrick Brown 3 Central Florida
CB Drayton Florence 11 Tuskegee
LB Jason Williams 5 Western Illinois

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

QUARTERBACKS (2): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson

The Panthers decided to use a roster spot reserved for a third quarterback in recent years on another position. The odd man out was former second-round draft pick Jimmy Clausen, who hadn't been active for a game either of the last two seasons.

RUNNING BACKS (4): DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Armond Smith, Kenjon Barner

Jonathan Stewart, on the physically unable to perform list, could return in Week 7 but doesn't count toward roster limit until he does. Tauren Poole made a case for inclusion, but Smith made it largely on the strength of his special teams contributions.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards, Ted Ginn, Domenik Hixon

The always-debated position will be again with the decision to waive/injured David Gettis, whose strong preseason came to a screeching halt with a hamstring injury before the finale. It will be interesting to see how Edwards, Ginn and Hixon stack up in the rotation.

TIGHT ENDS (4): Greg Olsen, Ben Hartsock, Richie Brockel, Brandon Williams

No surprises here after the initial surprise of Williams rising from a medical problem that ended his college career prematurely to become a training camp standout. Hartsock and Brockel are key blockers.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10): Jordan Gross, Ryan Kalil, Amini Silatolu, Byron Bell, Garry Williams, Travelle Wharton, Jeff Byers, Chris Scott, Nate Chandler, Brian Folkerts

With Silatolu slowed by a hamstring injury, Wharton and Scott are technically the only two healthy guards, but Wharton and Williams – technically listed as a tackle – are the starters for now. Jeff Byers, one of three centers along with Ryan Kalil and former tryout player Brian Folkerts, can play guard as well. Chandler, a converted defensive lineman, is the top tackle backup as long as Williams is in the lineup at right guard.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy, Frank Alexander, Mario Addison, Wes Horton

The starters and their immediate backups were firmly entrenched and ready to roll. Then there's Horton, an undrafted rookie out of Southern California who made enough plays in the preseason to make the cut.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Dwan Edwards, Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Colin Cole

A significantly upgraded position group from this time last year. Once Frank Kearse was waived/injured, the only question seemed to be whether Sione Fua would earn a spot. He lost out in the numbers game, leaving Cam Newton as the only 2011 draftee still on the roster.

LINEBACKERS (6): Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Jon Beason, Chase Blackburn, Jordan Senn, A.J. Klein

Veteran Jason Williams, a good special teams player capable of contributing on defense as well, was in the running for a spot. But all the reserve linebackers are good special teams players, as are several members of the secondary.

CORNERBACKS (6): Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Thomas, Josh Norman, D.J. Moore, James Dockery, Melvin White

There just wasn't enough room for everybody in the secondary, where the Panthers kept 10 players. White, an undrafted player, was the one rookie to survive. That didn't leave room for veteran Drayton Florence, who started the first three preseason games.

SAFETIES (4): Charles Godfrey, Mike Mitchell, Haruki Nakamura, Colin Jones

The odd man out here was second-year player D.J. Campbell, considered a potential starter at strong safety before Mitchell established himself. Nakamura and Jones are invaluable on special teams and both made the best of their chances on defense.

SPECIALISTS (3): Graham Gano, Brad Nortman, JJ Jansen

The trio entered the final preseason game knowing they had secured a spot after their backups were waived in the initial roster cutdown. With reliable long snapper Jansen setting them up, Gano hit all eight of his field goals and Nortman averaged 49.1 yards per punt in preseason.

Senior writer Bryan Strickland and staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.

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