A day after the special teams unit got burned for two punt returns for touchdowns that were called back, the Carolina Panthers traded for help.
Second-year player Colin Jones went from the San Francisco 49ers to the Panthers on Friday. The move was made in the midst of the Panthers cutting the roster to 53 men.
Jones, a safety who will likely see more time on special teams, comes to the Panthers after Carolina traded its 2014 seventh-round draft pick, a league source said. Jones was a sixth-round draft pick in the 2011 draft and has three years left on his contract.
Jones recorded six tackles on defense in 13 games last season and also had eight tackles on special teams.
“He’s fast and very disruptive,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said.
“In punt coverage and kick coverage, he’s normally the first one down the field. And we felt like with that fourth safety, his main responsibility is special teams and that’s what Colin does.”
Hurney and the Panthers liked what they saw out of Jones last year and attempted to sign him off San Francisco’s practice squad, but Jones opted to stay with the 49ers.
Punter Brad Nortman has had to be careful not out-kicking the coverage like his predecessor Jason Baker often did last season. Nortman won the punting competition against veteran Nick Harris based on his distance, but there were concerns that he could kick past his coverage.
Thursday night in Pittsburgh, rookie punt returner Chris Rainey took two punts – one from 78 yards and the second from 90 – into the end zone. Both were called back because of holding penalties.
Jones will be one of five Panther safeties. Starters Haruki Nakamura and Charles Godfrey lead the group while Jones joins Sherrod Martin and D.J. Campbell as a backup.
The Panthers cut Jonathan Nelson, Jordan Pugh and Reggie Smith on Friday.
Staff writer Joseph Person contributed