Panthers Just Made the WTF Roster Move of the Season

Who ever said Mondays were boring???

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, my Monday was still boring as shit up until about 7:00pm EST tonight. That’s about the time that I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and found this little gem from Max Henson:

Let’s keep this 100 real quick. This is a nothing football move and the fact that this all of a sudden made my boring Monday “less boring” should show you exactly how boring my Monday was. That being said, when you look at the reasoning behind why Marty Hurney made this move for Carolina, there are a ton of interesting layers behind it.

First let’s add some context. QB Gilbert in the tweet is referring to Garrett Gilbert, a quarterback that Dave Gettleman signed in the offseason to add some depth to the position for camp and OTA’s while Cam’s shoulder was recovering from surgery. Gilbert showed enough during camp and his preseason appearances that the coaching staff decided to keep him around with one of the team’s 10 practice squad spots. Dez Southward is a safety that was brought in (under similar circumstances to Gilbert) to compete for a spot and provide depth to his position. Southward initially was on the practice squad, but was called up to the active roster a couple of weeks ago to fill in for some injured guys at his position. DL Purcell is some guy I’ve never heard of and wasn’t aware he existed until this tweet so he is irrelevant.

Another thing to remember with this, is that the positions the players play matter more than the players themselves. Both guys are either backend roster guys or technically not even on the roster to begin with. The NFL is cruel SOB for players in that position and turnover happens regularly with those types of players.

OK, let’s take a deep dive here.

The big picture of the move is that the result leaves the Panthers with FOUR quarterbacks on the active roster. Not one, not two…..four. Historically, most teams break camp/preseason with two quarterbacks on the active roster. It’s ironic in a sense that that’s the case since the position is the most valuable one in sports, but given how little you rotate in quarterbacks mid game and the fact the only one plays at a time, coaches find that two QB’s is sufficient and keeping more depth at skill positions or lineman is more valuable than stashing more guys at QB that won’t sniff the field.

The Panthers have been routinely keeping three QB’s on the roster over the past couple of years which isn’t as common. Sure, multiple teams do it every season, but it’s a very small percentage. Joe Webb stuck around Carolina a couple of seasons, because while he was solid depth at QB, he was also a stand out special teams player and could fill in at wideout in a pinch. His flexibility made him too valuable to drop. Another scenario as to why a team like Carolina would keep three QB’s is what they are doing currently. During roster cut day, Carolina claimed Brad Kaaya off of waivers from Detroit because he felt like there was value in having a young QB in the pipeline. Derek Anderson is in the last year of his deal and Carolina hasn’t drafted a QB in some time. Kaaya was a late round pick in the most recent draft which shows that he has value and potential. Teams that don’t have immediate use for guys like that typically use a roster spot on them in order to protect them from other teams.

When Carolina promoted Gilbert up to the roster, instead of cutting Kaaya, they cut Southward, a safety. So now, the Panthers are currently holding four QB’s on the active roster. No one keeps four QB’s on the active roster.

My immediate reaction is that a trade is potentially forthcoming. Teams like Green Bay and Tampa saw their starting QB’s get injured over the weekend meaning there could be a need for one of them (or some other team) to add depth to that position while they wait for the injury to heal.

Would one of these teams (or another team) be interested in acquiring one of Carolina’s quarterbacks perhaps? Let’s look at the likelihood of this.

Derek Anderson — We obviously won’t include Cam in this scenario because that’s our guy and in no sane universe would there be a scenario that we trade him. That leaves Anderson as the highest guy on the depth chart. The only conceivable reason that DA could get traded is because he’s a free agent at the end of the season and the Panthers aren’t looking to resign him. I’m not sure if that last part is true or not, but either way it’s a long shot. Given that Cam isn’t fully healthy still from his shoulder surgery, having a “reliable” backup like DA around isn’t something you can trade away. Likelihood: 1/10

Brad Kaaya — This is the most intriguing side of a potential deal because Kaaya is still fresh enough out of college and the draft that some team that liked him a lot during the vetting process, but passed on him in the draft to address greater needs, etc may really be tempted to give up a pick to get him away from Carolina. If Kaaya were to get traded, he’d still be the backup, but his “ceiling” could be enough to convince teams that he’s worth having around as insurance for this year with the potential to grow into much more going forward. Likelihood: 5.5/10

Garret Gilbert — If you’re comparing Gilbert to Kaaya at face value, Kaaya is the more attractive player. Gilbert had a nice preseason, but he stuck around on the Panther practice squad for a reason. Teams can sign guys off other team’s practice squads at any time so there is definite vulnerability for a team to have a guy that they like on a practice squad with no formal protection of his rights. Gilbert was never signed away from Carolina. Possibly because teams didn’t have a need for him, or possibly because teams felt like he didn’t present enough of an upgrade to what they already had. That’s why this move is so interesting because he was promoted to the active roster without taking another QB’s spot. Perhaps the Panthers got wind of another team’s interest of him and protected him enough so that they could get a draft pick back? There isn’t much of another explanation out there. Likelihood: 7/10

The other scenario is that Hurney promoted Gilbert up without cutting another QB purely to protect him until teams like Green Bay and Tampa address their QB needs. Once those teams do, he will turn right around and release him back down to the practice squad and replace him with a player from another position. That would be the ultimate troll job and a total move the Panthers WOULD execute. For my sake, I hope that’s not the case. I’m craving a trade!

*Update*

Marty Hurney is officially a troll.

 

Sunday’s Game is Crucial for the Offense

After Sunday’s game against the Patriots, Carolina will have successfully completed a quarter of their season. Logic says that a trip up to Foxboro to take on Tom Brady will result in a loss and a subsequent 2-2 record. Being .500 after four games in the NFL certainly isn’t a death sentence, but with the way other teams in the division (namely the Falcons) are playing, the margin for error is pretty thin going forward.

If there is anything that Panther fans can lean on for optimism going into this week’s game, it’s that the New England defense is absolutely awful. New England’s defense ranks at the bottom of the league in most major statistical categories and are on pace for a historically bad season. They lack the personnel to get good push up front and there simply aren’t enough to playmakers on the backend to compensate for the difference. The Pats have been especially vulnerable when it comes to defending backs like McCaffrey who can dice you up with receiving yards out of the backfield or in the slot. Carolina and Shula have proved to be unafraid to feed CMC the rock early and often so I expect he will be pretty involved throughout the day.

The problem though for Carolina has been their inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities regardless of whether they’ve played a bad defense or not. Cam Newton is clearly not 100% coming off his shoulder surgery. Even if the shoulder itself is healthy, his timing and reads that he’s making are behind, off or completely nonexistent. As much as we can pass some blame around to Shula for lackluster play calling, the offensive line for lack of protection, etc. Cam has and deserves a decent amount of criticism. He has missed multiple plays that, as a starting QB in the NFL, you should never miss and more often than not, those misses would have either been scores or a big gain down the field.

As good as the defense is, they’re not invincible. Drew Brees proved that last Sunday as he picked them apart for four quarters. Rivera has often relied on the defense to win games for him during his tenure, but frankly, if Cam and the offense can’t get points, then the pressure on the defense to perform every time out is too much.

I’m as concerned as anyone about Cam’s performance this season. I’m still firmly on his bandwagon because the guy is simply too talented to not rebound at some point. However, if Rivera is insistent on limiting Cam’s running opportunities to protect him, but his shoulder isn’t fully back from rehab then it’s going to be hard for Carolina to outscore their opponents on a weekly basis.

Losses in the NFL typically spark overreaction so the Saints game may end up being an anomaly, but fans will definitely need to see strides from the offense against an absolutely awful defense. Even if the team loses, but the offense proves they can score, then we should feel better going into the second quarter of the season. If Carolina continues their trend, then there will be some hard questions to answer on Monday.

Roster Move Friday

Welcome to “Roster Move Friday”! The segment where we recap all of the roster moves that the Panthers make over the course of the week. Doesn’t matter if it’s a trade, a practice squad signing or someone going on IR, if it’s a roster move, we don’t discriminate.

9/11/17 — Panthers reach injury settlements with Brenton Bersin, Gino Gradkowski, Chris Scott & L.J. McCray. All players released/waived.

The Panthers filled that IR list up in the preseason. Pretty much anyone that was injured, but wasn’t a true threat to make the team was put on IR for the season. I guess that’s pretty common practice, but either way, that run for these four was short lived. Shouts to Chris Scott and Brenton Bersin real quick for their service. They did enough to be memorable, but not enough for us to be that sad about them leaving. Best of luck to them in their future endeavors.

9/13/17 — Panthers claim Ladarius Gunter from the Packers, waive Harrison Butker.

A big point of contention among the fan base was that the Panthers broke training camp with two kickers on the final 53 man roster. Certainly that’s not common practice in today’s NFL, but Hurney tried to get get a trade return for one of Butker or Gano during a time where a couple teams had some dicey kicking situations. It didn’t work out, no harm no foul.

Gunter is a solid acquisition when you consider the quality of player usually available on the waiver wire. Gunter has some legit game tape unlike most guys floating out there making him much more of a known commodity and it’s a bonus that he plays a position the Panthers could use quality depth at. Gunter should also be an instant contributor to special teams and teams can always use guys that can execute there.

9/14/17 — Harrison Butker added to practice squad. Eric Crume waived.

Plenty of fans were concerned that the rookie kicker would get claimed by someone if he were to get waived, which is why most wanted the Panthers to part with Gano instead. I think Hurney played this one perfectly though and passed Butker through waivers after a couple kicker needy teams claimed other players to fill that void. Butker was always destined to return to the practice squad if he cleared waivers. The hope will be for him to assume full time kicking duties next season once Gano becomes a free agent.

9/14/17 — Panthers claim John Theus from the 49ers, place Cole Luke on IR.

Hurney making moves! I don’t know anything about Theus other than he was a 5th round pick for San Francisco back in 2016 and he plays offensive tackle. To be honest, that’s fine with me. You can NEVER have enough depth a tackle and I like grabbing guys that were recent draft picks and stashing them on the roster. Our coaching staff is proven and has had success developing reclamation projects. Hoping Theus can fill in as productive depth behind Kalil, Williams, etc.

Cole Luke going to IR definitely helps validate the Gunter claim. Luke was the only UDFA to crack the Carolina 53, but nursed an ankle injury ever since the final preseason game. I guess Luke could theoretically be designated for return, but it’s unlikely as he isn’t as talented as the guy they replaced him with. The NFL is tough.

9/15/17 — Bucky Hodges added to practice squad, Keyarris Garrett waived.

This is a move that has me excited! I have been calling for the Panthers to draft a young developmental tight end for a couple of years now and I know I’m not the only one. It’s no secret that beyond Greg Olsen, Carolina doesn’t have an adequate receiving threat at tight end. Not sure Bucky will be that guy, but he’s definitely got the skill set to develop into a productive second or third option. He’s not on the active roster so I don’t expect to see Hodges anytime soon, but I like that there is at least a young piece hanging around.

Keyarris Garrett came in with some hype, but ultimately, he didn’t amount to much.

1-0 Party! 3 Takeways From Carolina’s Blowout Win

Football is baaaaaccckkkk! You know what? Shouts to football and the NFL for finally being back. We literally spend every single day of the offseason wishing it was on and to have it finally back and actually count is a good feeling.

As good as it is for football to be back, there aren’t many worse feelings for a fan base than to watch your team catch a L in week one. That’s perilous shit right there. Very few teams in the league can recover from a 0-2 hole in the NFL and recover in time to make the playoffs. To my math, there have only been 14 teams since 1991 that have accomplished such a feat. So when you go 0-1 after the first game, your season is pretty much on the line that next Sunday. Scary stuff.

Fortunately for Panthers fans, we don’t have to worry about that! Carolina took care of business out west and blew the 49ers out in a game that was never close. There were some fans that remained cautiously optimistic heading into the game, but we can just chalk that up to the unknown and first game paranoia as a fan. Any sane person new how big of a difference there was in talent and it showed.

Here are my five biggest takeways from the game yesterday:

The Defense is stout — This has been a pretty common occurrence for Carolina for the past several years. The talent on this side of the ball is undeniable. Luke Kuechly is easily the best linebacker in football and a top 3 defensive player in general, KK short and Star are monsters on the interior line and there is a stable of ageless talented vets (Thomas Davis, Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, etc) and a crop of young up and coming stars (Shaq Thompson, Vernon Butler, James Bradberry, etc) that round out the unit. When healthy, this unit has the ability to be the top defense in football.

Cam Newton was rusty — This was to be expected somewhat. The guy only threw two passes during the preseason, but there were definitely throws he missed in that first half that he should have made. Fortunately for him, he got into more of a rhythm in the second half completing all six of his passes. The schedule early in the season is forgiving so it’s a best case scenario when trying to get back into your groove. Cam will be fine. Perhaps the most encouraging Cam story line that came from the game though was…..

The O-Line didn’t allow a sack — This is HUGE. Cam was absolutely demolished by opposing defenses at times last season and the wear and tear certainly caught up to him by the end of it. Given how long it took for him to rehab and recover, it would benefit both him and the Panthers to keep him as clean as possible going forward. The line did a great job of containing and the staff called a game that allowed Cam to utilize those short throws all game. More of this going forward please. Definitely need Cam healthy to contend.

 

Carolina will take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at 1:00pm EST

Recap of the Final Roster & Subsequent Transactions Part 2

This is Part 2 of my recap of last weekend and all the moves the Panthers made during and after roster cuts. Read part one here.

Hurney’s Second First Trade: For the first time the NFL adjusted the rules of the cut down process to eliminate the 75 man cut down and just have one cut period where the rosters would go from 90 to 53. As a result, there were a ton of players scheduled to hit the waiver wire/open market all at once. One thing that was pretty noticeable were the amount of trades made league wide. I guess GM’s were trying to get ahead of the market a little bit.

I’m a big trade guy. Those are always fun for me regardless of the sport. Not all trades work out in your favor and the initial transaction isn’t always something to be happy or excited about, but as someone who loves player transactions in general, I love a trade. I love deep diving into a guy trying to figure out how we just landed the missing piece to a future title run and how the new pieces mesh with the existing ones. It’s just fun.

The trade Marty Hurney made wasn’t a big headline grabber, but I like the end result for the team. Hurney flipped WR Kaelin Clay and a 2019 7th round pick for Buffalo 2016 6th round pick DB Kevon Seymour. To be honest, I don’t know much about Seymour other than what I’ve read and watched of him post trade. His stats as a rookie were pretty solid. He made 15 appearances and 3 starts as a rookie last year and only allowed one reception for every 14.8 snaps he had on the field which was the best mark for any rookie DB last season (including James Bradberry & Daryl Worley).

In Seymour, the Panthers inherit a guy with three more seasons of control and can slot in as depth on the outside and inside right away. Given the fact that he’s been working in a Sean McDermott system all summer, the defense under Steve Wilks shouldn’t be too hard for him to pick up. It’ll be important that he’s ready by Sunday since UDFA Cole Luke is dealing with a nagging ankle injury.

The dynamic of the trade interests me as much as anything. Hurney told the press that he was the one who initiated the call to his old buddy Brandon Beane in Buffalo. That makes sense due to Buffalo receiving a pick as part of the return compensation. My guess is that the scouting department under Dave Gettleman had pretty high marks on the kid during the 2016 draft vetting process. Makes me wonder if Dave and the staff were looking at Seymour as a possibility for the pick that ended up going to Zack Sanchez, another 2016 DB draft pick that was waived over the weekend.

When Sanchez was picked, he was marked as a guy that could develop as a nickel corner due to his size and instincts that could also fill in on the outside as needed. His performance as a rookie was certainly less than inspiring and even after playing pretty well during the preseason, he left the Pittsburgh game with a groin injury and was waived without going on IR and wasn’t even brought back on the practice squad. Pretty telling that they were ready to move on from him.

Buffalo is a rebuilding team. They have been selling players like Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby away for band aid replacements and draft capital. When you look at what the Panthers gave up to get Seymour, it falls in line with what Buffalo has been doing. Kaelin Clay had a nice August and earned his spot on the roster, but the Panthers already have speedy receivers and return specialists in Byrd and Samuel so he was surplus and likely not to get much burn. The 7th round pick was a throw in given that Seymour is the higher ceiling player to even out the trade. The fact that Buffalo got a player back in the deal in general makes me wonder if they asked for someone like Byrd instead and had to settle on Clay and a pick (which they need) when the Panthers politely declined. In the short term, Clay gives Buffalo a deep threat they can rotate in and value in the return game.

All in all I liked the trade for Carolina. It won’t move the needle, but it helps give them quality depth at a spot they needed it.

Working the Waiver Wire: The trade wasn’t the only work Hurney did to acquire players over the weekend. He also spent some time on the waiver wire making a couple of successful claims to add some more depth to the roster.

The most notable move he made will be the one the provides the least amount of impact up front and that was picking up the rights to Brad Kaaya. The Lions took Kaaya in the 6th round of this year’s draft and opted to go with Jake Rudock as the backup instead. I personally like the move low key — it still doesn’t make me miss Joe Webb less — but I like it. My faith in Derek Anderson has been waning along with most of the fan base the past couple of seasons and I have felt that it might have been in the Panthers interest to have invested a late round pick in a developmental QB the past couple of years.

Carolina is lucky to be set with a franchise QB, but having a young backup you can develop is never a bad idea. They may not start, but if they show out in camp or spot snaps here or there, they become a tradeable asset. Carolina hasn’t had a young QB in the pipeline since 2011 when they drafted Cam. Jonathon Jones of SI mentioned that Hurney was a big advocate of Kaaya pre draft while he was still hovering around the media prior to reclaiming his GM post. Kaaya effectively comes in as a Hurney draft pick for this season. Perhaps it will work out, perhaps it won’t, but having Kaaya around to learn from Cam for a season isn’t a bad thing. Important to remember that Derek Anderson is a free agent at the end of the season.

The other selection was Demetrius Cox from Cincinnati. Cox was a UDFA this year out of Michigan State and can play both safety spots. He comes to Charlotte as just the fourth safety on the roster and will be looked at to play right away. I don’t know much about Cox’s game or skill set, but he had a nice game against Tampa during week one of the preseason.

Practice Squad Notes:  The ten players (eleven this year for Carolina) that usually fill out the practice squad are always a big talking point at the time they’re established, but rarely do these guys come up and play.

Fan favorite Alex Armah is the headliner of the class. He’s a young fullback that has shown some skills, but he is still raw so having a year on the practice squad will benefit him going forward. The Panthers were also able to stash a couple of safeties that I thought had decent showings this summer, but the fact that they were stashed prior to us picking up Cox off waivers was interesting.

Eric Crume is the most likely player to get called up in case of injury with Love and Butler both banged up.

 

Everything is in full go and it’s time for the big boys to separate themselves. I like what the Panthers have done so far and I think they have a squad that can compete for a playoff spot. We should see some more roster moves over the next couple of weeks, but for now, it’s time to focus on beating the 49ers on Sunday.

Recap of the Final Roster & Subsequent Transactions Part 1

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!

My One and Only Panthers Roster Projection

The Panthers wrap up their preseason on Thursday night against Pittsburgh in what should be a spectating event for most of the roster locks and regular contributors. For those that will play, it will be their final chance to state their case to be on the roster for the coaching staff and front office. Cut day is Saturday and just like Winter, it’s coming/here.

Here’s my take on what the 53 man roster will be after cuts have been made:

Quarterbacks (3): Cam Newton, Derek Anderson and Joe Webb

Business as usual here. A lot of fans want DA out or would like Webb promoted up to the backup slot. It won’t happen. Webb is the perfect #3 QB and is a great contributor on special teams and at wide receiver when he’s called upon. Given DA is a UFA after this season, this will likely be his last ride with Carolina.

Running Backs (4): Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Fozzy Whitaker and Cameron Artis-Payne

After Carolina drafted McCaffrey in April, my initial thought was that CAP’s spot on the roster was in jeopardy, but he has played well enough to deserve a spot on the roster. He also serves as the best replacement for Stewart in case of injury. Whitaker has been a staple for a couple of seasons, but in my opinion, he is the most at risk of getting cut due to personnel at his position and on special teams.

Fullbacks (1): Darrell Young

I went back and fourth on this one. Panthers are one of the few teams in the league that use a fullback so it would make sense that they retain one at the position. Other option would be to have a fourth tight end Richie Brockel type, but that is unlikely. Alex Armah has flashed in camp as a rookie, but given that he’s still so raw, practice squad seems likely for him leaving Young. Young’s experience in the league makes him serviceable.

Wide Receivers (5): Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel, Russell Shepard and Damiere Byrd

Rivera has enough receiving versatility with McCaffrey and Joe Webb on the roster to get away with only keeping five wideouts on the 53. Curtis Samuel being healthy again also helps justify Ron building up depth elsewhere. Byrd makes the team as a vertical threat and special teams threat. Brenton Bersin and Kaelin Clay would be vying for the 6th spot if there was one available.

Tight Ends (3): Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson and Chris Manhertz

Olsen is an elite tight end and Dickson is a solid backup / best blocking tight end on the roster. Those two are solid. The third tight end spot is shaky at best. Manhertz beats out Scott Simonsen primarily because the latter has been injured, but this could be a group that sees a new addition added after cuts are made.

Offensive Line (9): Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Andrew Norwell, Matt Kalil, Daryl Williams, Taylor Moton, Tyler Larsen, Gino Gradkowski and Chris Scott

Extremely solid group. Matt Kalil has looked solid at left tackle this preseason and Taylor Moton has a really bright future. Larsen will be Ryan Kalil’s primary backup at center while Scott and Gradkowski will fill in as interior depth.

Defensive Line (9): Charles Johnson, Julius Peppers, Mario Addison, Wes Horton, Daeshon Hall, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, Eric Crume

Again, this is an extremely solid group with a great mix of veteran leadership and young talent. Short and Star are arguably the best interior tackle duo in the league and once Vernon Butler gets healthy, he will only make that group stronger. Daeshon Hall will most likely take the back seat to Horton on game days initially, but I like his potential. Kyle Love gets cut due to health reasons, but Eric Crume has been a nice surprise in games so far.

Linebackers (6): Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Jeremy Cash and Ben Jacobs.

Best group in the league and it’s not close. David Mayo looks to be an even better version of AJ Klein as the primary backup. Ben Jacobs edges out Jared Norris for the final spot due to special teams ability, but it’s close.

Cornerbacks (6): James Bradberry, Darryl Worley, Captain Munnerlyn, Teddy Williams, Zack Sanchez and Corn Elder

Zack Sanchez’s game against Jacksonville showed me enough improvement to warrant a roster spot. That being said, a big reason why he makes the team is due to Corn Elder’s injury. Elder looks to be on the mend so it’ll be interesting to see how things shake down once he makes his return to the field, but given that he’s a rookie it will take time to integrate him into the rotation. Teddy Williams will continue to lead the charge on special teams.

Safeties (4): Kurt Coleman, Mike Adams, Colin Jones and Dezmond Southward

This is another group that could see a new addition once cuts have been made. Jones is a “special teams ace” so his spot seems safe. Southward has had a nice preseason so I think he makes the team Saturday, but he will be the first to go if the front office finds an upgrade on the market Saturday night.

Specialists (3): Graham Gano, Andy Lee and JJ Jansen

According to media reports, Jansen is the only lock here at long snapper. I do think that Rivera will ride with Gano for one more season over Butker, but if he misses a few to start the season, the leash will be extremely short. The punter battle between Lee and Palardy has been widely publicized, but given Lee’s skill, experience and contract situation, it just makes sense to keep him.