The Panthers ranked in the top 10 in total defense for the third consecutive season in 2014, and their strength and stability at defensive tackle again played a pivotal role in the showing.
For the third consecutive year, Carolina returns its top four players at the position – two early-round draft picks in 2013 along with two veterans.
The Panthers' 2013 first-round draft choice will look to bounce back from an up-and-down sophomore season that included a pair of injuries. … Out two games with a significant ankle injury, then missed NFC Divisional Playoff with a foot injury. … Appeared to recapture form that made him an all-rookie selection prior to postseason injury.
Carolina's 2013 second-round draft choice continued to rise, getting the first nine starts of his career over the second half of the 2014 season. … Developed further as a pass rusher, collecting 3.5 sacks after recording 1.5 as a rookie. … Counting the postseason, Panthers are 6-1 when Short gets a sack, including 5-0 last season.
The 35-year-old signed a one-year contract to remain with the Panthers one week before free agency began. … Run stuffer plays younger than his age, having sat out the 2011 and 2012 seasons following a major ankle injury before Carolina signed him. … Has played in 31 games with 23 starts for the Panthers, recording 45 tackles.
The 34-year-old signed a two-year contract to remain with the Panthers hours before free agency. … Has amassed 13 sacks in three seasons with Carolina after totaling 5.5 in his first seven NFL seasons with Baltimore and Buffalo. … Over the past three seasons, Carolina's other defensive tackles have totaled 12.5 sacks.
Run stopper signed late in the season after having played in just two games since 2012. … Played his first three seasons with the New England Patriots, seeing action in 41 regular season games and seven postseason games, including Super Bowl XLVI.
Spent 13 games on Carolina's practice squad and was inactive for three games as a member of the 53-man roster in 2014. … Initially came to Carolina as an invited tryout at rookie minicamp. … Added 25 pounds of bulk this offseason and now weighs 330 pounds.
Signed with the Panthers after attending the team's rookie minicamp in May as an invited tryout. … Spent 2012 on Miami's practice squad, 2014 on San Diego's practice squad, and was out of football in 2013. … Second-team All-Big East selection at Pittsburgh after recording 15.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as a senior.
Undrafted rookie out of Memphis. … Helped the Tigers win their first conference title since 1971 while ranking 11th nationally in scoring defense in 2014. … Started last two-and-a-half seasons at Memphis, playing defensive tackle and noseguard.