There were few surprises among the 22 players the Panthers released Friday in the final round of roster cuts.
The most interesting development involved one of the players they kept.
Wide receiver Armanti Edwards, who did not catch a pass his first two seasons, survived the cuts to claim a spot on the Panthers' 53-man roster for the third consecutive year. Edwards, the former Appalachian State quarterback-turned-wideout, was thought to be on shaky ground when the Panthers drafted Joe Adams to return punts, the role Edwards held last season.
But Edwards turned in his strongest preseason and took advantage of injuries and inconsistent play by a couple of his competitors to win one of the six receiving spots. Edwards caught five passes for 69 yards during the exhibition schedule, including two receptions Thursday at Pittsburgh.
"You keep seeing Armanti improving," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "He's getting more and more comfortable being a receiver. I think he's has excellent hands. He shows his speed, and showed his burst on some of the plays against the Steelers."
Friday's cuts included three players the Panthers drafted, all in the late rounds: defensive backs Jordan Pugh (sixth, 2010) and R.J. Stanford (seventh, 2010) and offensive lineman Zack Williams, a sixth-round pick last year.
The list also included three former Chargers who followed coach Ron Rivera from San Diego to Charlotte last year: wideout Seyi Ajirotutu, linebacker/special teams player Kion Wilson and defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo.
Other notable players cut were:
• cornerback Darius Butler, a former second-round pick of New England;
• undrafted receiver Jared Green, son of Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green;
• linebacker Jason Williams, primarily a special teams player whose spot went to Kenny Onatolu, signed in the offseason to boost the special teams.
The Panthers also made a trade Friday with an eye on improving special teams, sending their seventh-round pick in 2014 to San Francisco for safety Colin Jones. The Panthers kept five safeties: starters Haruki Nakamura and Charles Godfrey, former starter Sherrod Martin, Jones and seventh-round pick D.J. Campbell.
As for Edwards, he said this week his route-running, pass-catching ability and understanding of the offense have improved since the Panthers traded a second-round pick to move into the third round to draft him in 2010. Edwards knew he was on the bubble for one of the last roster spots, but said he couldn't worry about the other receivers.
One spot opened when third-year wideout David Gettis was placed on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring issue. Ajirotutu has more special teams experience than Edwards, but struggled to hang on to the ball throughout the preseason.
"You have to look at the big picture," Hurney said. "We feel like we have people on special teams that can fill some of those roles (held by Ajirotutu). We just made the decision to keep Armanti because he does continue to improve."
The Panthers opted to keep all three quarterbacks, maintaining what Rivera believes is a good energy in the quarterbacks meeting room. Jimmy Clausen, inactive for every game last year, will be the No. 3 quarterback behind Cam Newton and Derek Anderson.
The Panthers will try to bring several of the promising young players back when teams begin filling their practice squads Saturday.
|Seyi Ajirotutu||WR||3||Fresno State|
|Darius Butler (Injured)||CB||4||Connecticut|
|David Nixon||LB||4||Brigham Young|
|Ogemdi Nwagbuo||DT||4||Michigan State|
|Tauren Poole (Injured)||RB||R||Tennessee|
|Matt Reynolds||T||R||Brigham Young|
|Ryan Van Bergen||DL||R||Michigan|
|Kion Wilson||LB||3||South Florida|
|Bryant Browning||G||1||Ohio State|
|Lamont Bryant||WR||R||Morgan State|
|Joe Jon Finley||TE||1||Oklahoma|
|Jordan Pugh||S||3||Texas A&M|
|Armond Smith||RB||2||Union College (KY)|
|Justin Wells||G||1||St. Augustine's|
|Jason Williams||LB||4||Western Illinois|
|Zack Williams||G||2||Washington State|
|Terminated Vested Veteran|