CHARLOTTE – When running back Brandon Wegher and safety Dean Marlowe pulled up to Bank of America Stadium on Saturday to learn their fate as it pertained to the Panthers' 53-man roster, both experienced a sense of calm.
Then they walked into the stadium.
"Before I got to the building, I didn't have any nerves," Wegher said. "Honestly it was the most relaxed I've been in a while. I had put in all the work, and there was nothing I could really do but be patient.
"Then as soon as I hit the door, it was crazy. Am I going to get cut? Am I going to be put on the practice squad? Am I going to be on the 53?"
For both Wegher and Marlowe, the roller coaster of emotions ended on the highest of notes, with the undrafted rookies beating the odds and making the 53-man roster.
"I put everything into it, and then it was out of my control," Marlowe said. "But of course I had emotion. I wouldn't be normal if I wasn't nervous.
"I came in here and they didn't call my name, so I kind of got the idea. Then Coach Rock came up to me and said, 'You're good. You're safe.' That's how I found out."
While Marlowe got a heads up from assistant defensive backs coach Richard Rodgers, Wegher figured he was good when he didn't hear his name called for a one-on-one meeting. Further confirmation came when he and the other chosen 52 headed into the team meeting room and matter-of-factly began preparations for Sunday's regular season opener at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I walked in, and they didn't call me upstairs (to football operations). Then I went in the steam room and just pondered life," Wegher said. "Coming in and finding out that I made the roster is the best experience that I've ever had. Some tears came to me eyes. I called my fiancé, called my mom and dad."
While the undrafted rookies were sweating their fate, Panthers staff put in a lot of sweat equity to decide their fate. The decisions weren't easy, but head coach Ron Rivera believes they were the best decisions given the depth of talent on the 75-man roster.
"Those guys are explosive, young dynamic football players that we think are going to grow and have an opportunity to be a part of the future as we go forward," Rivera said. "Last year with the injuries that we had at the running back positon, keeping an extra young guy was most certainly in our thought process. As far as Dean was concerned, with the secondary we have, he fits the mold.
"We think those two young guys have a lot of good football ahead of them."
While Rivera is excited about what Wegher and Marlowe can bring to the table, he said it's too early to tell if they'll be active Sunday or among the seven inactives that the Panthers are required to declare.
But when it comes to that decision – just like the 53-man roster decision – Wegher and Marlowe plan to just keep putting in the work and then letting the chips fall where they may.
"Everybody has a role. Whatever role they give me, that's what I'm going to pursue," Marlowe said. "It's been a ride, from my last college game to the combine and everything.
"It's been quite a ride, but it's just the beginning. I'm striving every day to do my best and compete."