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Strickly Panthers: Carolina adds Balmer


CINCINNATI - The Panthers' search for help at defensive tackle took an interesting turn before Thursday's preseason game when they claimed former first-round pick Kentwan Balmer off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks.

Balmer, selected No. 29 overall by San Francisco in 2008 from the University of North Carolina, struggled through two seasons with the 49ers before Seattle traded a 2011 sixth-round pick for him. He was marginally more successful with the Seahawks, recording a career-high 43 tackles in 2010 while starting eight games at defensive end and three at tackle.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, however, sees a decided difference in Balmer's previous situations and his new one in Carolina.

"He has struggled, but he struggled in a 3-4 scheme. He's coming to a 4-3 scheme," Rivera said. "I think this is a really strong move for him, coming to the style of defense he played in college.

"He is a big, athletic kid who has good power and good quickness."

The Panthers started a pair of rookies at defensive tackle against Cincinnati on Thursday in Sione Fua and Terrell McClain. The pair is progressing, but the position took a serious hit when 10-year veteran Ron Edwards suffered a season-ending arm injury early in training camp.

"I think the biggest thing is looking at where we are in terms of who's on the field," Rivera said. "We're playing some young guys that have to get some experience very quickly.

"Our two starting tackles this week were both rookies, and at times they played like rookies. At times they played like seasoned veterans, but they're a little ways away. We're going to live and die with the situation. These guys are going to learn and going to grow."

To make room on the 90-man roster for Balmer, the Panthers placed cornerback Cletis Gordon on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The roster must be trimmed to 80 by Tuesday.


NOT AS SPECIAL: Kicker Olindo Mare continued to shine on field goals and kickoffs against the Bengals, punter Jason Baker continued to get the job done, and the kick coverage teams again held their ground.

Still, special teams play did take a bit of a hit.

Flags for illegal blocks flew like crazy in the return game, and return man Armanti Edwards made a regrettable error. The Panthers showed confidence in Edwards' playmaking ability by making Cincinnati punt a second time following offsetting penalties, but Edwards muffed the punt, a turnover that set up an easy touchdown for the Bengals late in the first half.

"He's made such great strides, but what I thought happened was he took a peek at the last second for where his lane was instead of making the catch first," Rivera said. "That was a little disappointing because he's worked so hard. You hate to see that happen, but it was important that he came back and made a couple of plays after that."

Edwards had three punt returns totaling 50 yards in the Panthers' victory over the New York Giants to open the preseason.

QUIET NIGHT: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen relieved Cam Newton for the fourth quarter, but not much happened on his watch.

Faced with poor field position on each of his three series, Clausen completed 4-of-7 passes for 35 yards. He was sacked once, and it created a temporary scare, when linebacker Frostee Rucker hit him near his knees.

Clausen got up slowly on the third-down play and quarterback Derek Anderson started loosening on the sidelines, but Clausen came back in for the next series – the final series of the game for the offense.

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