Panthers veterans speak out after personnel cuts to reach 53-man roster
By Kevin Tolbert
The Carolina Panthers needed to bring their roster total to 53 by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday after waiving 11 players on Saturday. With the last minute decision to waive offensive tackle Cam Erving, cornerback Greg Mabin and defensive end Taylor Stallworth, they completed the cuts necessary to get there. There were no major surprises about the departing players considering their performances throughout most of the training camp period and the three preseason games, including the finale against Detroit.
Panthers' head coach Frank Reich talked about the difficult process, expressing his struggle with that part of the process but also explained his ability to effectively go through it due to his experience as a player. "We've all been there …we know what that feels like …It still doesn't make it easier," Reich said.
"A lot of the guys that were let go today are gonna end up starting games for us this year."
The list of waivers or releases included some who, according to head coach Frank Reich, will also be a part of the practice squad. Due to the depth of experience at running back, the list included RB Spencer Brown but also listed WR Shi Smith, WR Javon Wims, WR Josh Vann, OL Justin McCray, OL Michael Jordan, OL Deonte Brown, OL Sam Tecklenburg, OL JD Direnzo, DL Raequan Williams, OLB Kobe Jones, OLB Eku Leota, OLB Jordan Thomas, ILB Deion Jones, ILB Brandon Smith, ILB Ace Eley, S Eric Rowe, CB Keith Taylor, CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver, CB Herb Miller, CB Mac McCain and CB Mark Milton.
This week, however, was not an exit only process. The team added WR Ihmit Smith-Marsette to the roster via a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs - a conditional 2025 7th round pick swap.
The move helps bolster a Panthers' wide receiver room that has been banged up as of late. Laviska Shenault Jr. continues to work his way back into the action after suffering a concussion. DJ Chark is out with a hamstring injury and Terrace Marshall Jr. returned to practice on Tuesday as part of his efforts to work his way back from a back injury.
DE Henry Anderson, still suffering from an Aug. 12 foot injury during the Panthers' preseason loss to the New York Jets, was placed on Injured Reserve. Once Anderson is cleared, he will have up to four weeks to be placed on the active roster. Anderson, who re-signed with the team in March, is in his tenth season.
OG Austin Corbett continues to progress as he rehabs from the ACL injury suffered during the season finale against the New Orleans Saints. But Corbett won't be available in the near future based on the team's decision to add him to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The team has worked with a rotation of players to fill the gap of the 7th year player who has seen action with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams. Rookie Chandler Zavala has seen action in Corbett's absence since he returned from a pectoral injury which kept him out of a bulk of training camp.
Zavala was an elite pass blocker at NC State and should adjust quickly just as his former college teammate Ikem Ekwonu who is now the Panthers' starting left tackle.
With regard to how the players are dealing with the latest moves, the veterans of the group understand it is part of the process and are working to stay focused on the road ahead. Now, in his seventh season, starting center Bradley Bozeman has seen the process happen many times and sees the positives that can come from a negative day. "It's one of the darkest days of the year," Bozeman said.
"At the same time it's a great day because, you know, there's guys that are first time making the team ...so it's a great day in that aspect."
The team can begin assembling their 2023 practice squad on Thursday, Aug. 31. as they close out the preseason phase to get ready for their season opener against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Sept. 10.