Position preview: Safeties

After both a veteran and a rookie found their footing late last season, the Panthers' last line of defense flourished. All the key contributors return, and the addition of two veteran safeties only serves to strengthen the position.

RETURNERS

Roman Harper
A two-time Pro Bowler who spent eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, experienced some growing pains early in first season with Carolina but grew into the leader of the secondary. … Played pivotal role in the emergence of young players at safety and cornerback during Panthers' playoff push. …Paced team with a career-best four interceptions and ranked third behind linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis with 57 tackles.

Tre Boston
Fourth-round draft pick in 2014 came into his own over the last month of the season. … Replaced Thomas DeCoud at free saftey for the final four games of the regular season. … Returned his first career interception 84 yards for a touchdown in division-clinching victory at Atlanta, then followed the next week with an interception in the end zone to seal NFC Wild Card victory over Arizona.

Colin Jones
A special teams stalwart his first two seasons with Carolina, developed into a solid contributor on defense in 2014. … Successfully served as the Panthers' primary nickel back when Bene Benwikere missed six games midseason. … Could compete for a similar role this season depending on how Benwikere is used.

Robert Lester
After making the team as undrafted rookie in 2013 and playing in 12 games with four starts, struggled to find role in 2014. … Spent seven games on the practice squad and played in just one regular season game but did see action in NFC Wild Card victory over the Cardinals.

RECENTLY ROSTERED

Kurt Coleman
Five-year veteran with 32 career starts signed with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. … Led Kansas City with three interceptions last season despite starting just three games. … Spent first four seasons with Philadelphia – two as a starter and two as a key reserve. … Has 41 career special teams tackles.

Marcus Ball
Productive two years in Canadian Football League before playing reserve role for New Orleans last season. … Recorded 12 tackles in 12 games with the Saints, including two starts, and added nine special teams tackles.

ROOKIES

Dean Marlowe
Undrafted out of James Madison after a highly productive college career. … Four-year career included four appearances on all-Colonial Athletic Association teams. … Had 12 career interceptions and 30 passes defensed to go with 326 tackles.

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