At long last, it’s finally game week! No more empty weekends without Carolina Panther football for the foreseeable future. If you’re an avid investor in the stock market, I’d suggest looking into local businesses like Bojangles to invest in as their business should begin to spike as tailgate season officially kicks off alongside the actual NFL season.
Of course, in order to get there every team must go through camp and, more importantly, roster cuts. Like it does every year, the Panthers had some guys get released that we weren’t expecting and some guys make the team that we weren’t expecting. New/Old GM Marty Hurney also go involved in some waiver claim action and joined in on the trade train that every team in the league seemed to jump on.
There was a lot to process and reflect on. Here are the highlights:
Biggest Surprise Cut: Joe Webb. Pretty clear answer here. A week ago, my buddy and I were discussing with each other who we felt like the biggest surprise cut would be and neither of us had Webb on our radar. If you had told me beforehand that a QB was going to get cut, I would have confidently believed that Derek Anderson was the one you’d be referring to. Given Joe Webb’s position flexibility as a wide receiver and his production on special teams, his value felt obvious. Webb’s release was reportedly not a popular one among the locker room which makes sense. The reason they let him go also makes sense which I’ll get into during part two of this post.
Biggest Surprise Inclusion: If we were just listing an individual, I’d go with lineman Greg Van Roten who was a late addition to the training camp roster. That’s a feel good story, but the biggest surprise from the initial final 53 was definitely the inclusion of two kickers. The battle between Graham Gano and Harrison Butker has been widely publicized throughout the summer. Going into the Pittsburgh game, the feeling I got from the media was that Gano had been the better kicker in practice and the job was really his to lose. Similar reports had come out that Hurney was shopping Butker across the league looking for a potential trade.
The turning point in the competition was during the aforementioned game when Gano clanked a 51 yard attempt off the left upright which was his second such miss of the preseason. After the game, the reports shifted that the competition was even. Gano’s struggles last season are well known and it’s pretty obvious that the leash is short. I was surprised that given the depth issues at some positions, the staff opted to roll with two kickers. I’m sure Hurney is still trying to field potential trade offers for one of the two, but I can’t imagine they can afford both guys on the roster past Week 1. Gano has been tabbed to start, but if he misses any of his chances, he could find himself on the bottom.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of the final roster breakdown where I dive into the trade and waiver claims!