Friday was decision day at Bank of America Stadium.
Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman spent the day meeting with the coaching staff and personnel department to finalize the 53-man roster by Saturday's deadline.
Injuries have made those decisions easier at some positions and muddled the situation at others.
While wide receivers Domenik Hixon, Armanti Edwards and David Gettis missed time with hamstring injuries during the preseason, their roster spots were seemingly assured when Kealoha Pilares (knee) and Joe Adams (calf) went to injured reserve.
Former Panther Travelle Wharton was signed last week to help the offensive line, which has seen its depth depleted by nagging injuries to Amini Silatolu and Jeff Byers as well as the knee and hamstring issues that sent rookie Edmund Kugbila to IR.
Gettleman's work is just beginning. The longtime personnel director for the Giants will try to find treasure on other teams' cut lists and bring in a free agent or two.
The Observer projects how the Panthers will get from 75 to 53 players. (Changes from last week's projection noted in bold.)
On the roster: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson
Off: Jimmy Clausen
Ron Rivera pointed out that Clausen had to play behind an offensive line made up of a lot of third-teamers (and soon-to-be-cut players) in the second half against Pittsburgh. Still, Clausen didn't help himself: He fumbled out of bounds, tripped on a handoff and failed to lead a touchdown drive.
Running backs (5)
On: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart (PUP list), Mike Tolbert, Richie Brockel, Kenjon Barner, Armond Smith
Off: Tauren Poole
Injured reserve: Mike Zordich
The Panthers need an extra back until Stewart comes off the PUP list. Smith is the faster of the two young backs, but too often goes down on first contact. Poole is a tough runner, but doesn't have as much special teams value as Smith.
On: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., Armanti Edwards, David Gettis, Domenik Hixon
Off: Taulib Ikharo, Brenton Bersin, James Shaw
IR: Joe Adams, Kealoha Pilares, R.J. Webb
As soon as one receiver gets healthy, another one tweaks his hamstring. That was the case again Thursday when Hixon caught three passes in his first exhibition action, but Gettis was held out after his hamstring grabbed during pre-game warmups.
Tight ends (3)
On: Greg Olsen, Ben Hartsock, Brandon Williams
Off: Dominique Curry, Zack Pianalto
Hartsock was in a cast this week for his plantar fasciitis, but is optimistic he'll be ready for Seattle in Week 1. Williams might be the surprise of the preseason.
Offensive linemen (9)
On: T Jordan Gross, T Byron Bell, G Garry Williams, G Amini Silatolu, C Ryan Kalil, G/C Jeff Byers, G Travelle Wharton, G Chris Scott, T Nate Chandler
Off: Garrett Chisolm, Tori Mobley, Brian Folkerts, Patrick Brown, Hayworth Hicks
IR: Edmund Kugbila, Bruce Campbell
Silatolu will have his hamstring re-evaluated Monday, but could miss the opener. The recent injuries have put a premium on swing players who can line up at two spots, although one of those utility players Byers is among the injured.
Defensive linemen (9)
On: DE Charles Johnson, DE Greg Hardy, DT Dwan Edwards, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Kawann Short, DE Frank Alexander, DE Mario Addison, DT Colin Cole, DT Sione Fua
Off: Casey Walker, Craig Roh, Wes Horton
IR: Frank Kearse, Linden Gaydosh
Alexander and Addison looked good in the pass rush against the Steelers' second-team offensive line. Addison added to his value by making a tremendous play in punt coverage and forcing a safety.
On: Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Chase Blackburn, A.J. Klein, Jordan Senn, Jason Williams
Off: Doug Hogue, Ben Jacobs
The last linebacker spot appears to be between Hogue and Williams, both of whom have ample special teams experience. The Panthers could look to keep Jacobs on the practice squad.
Defensive backs (9)
On: CB Captain Munnerlyn, CB Drayton Florence, S Charles Godfrey, S Mike Mitchell, CB Josh Thomas, CB Josh Norman, CB D.J. Moore, S Haruki Nakamura, S Colin Jones
Off: D.J. Campbell, James Dockery (injured), Melvin White, Robert Lester, Anderson Russell
Jones' roster spot was already assured because of his speed and open-field tackling skills on special teams. His two interceptions of Pittsburgh's Landry Jones only helped his cause.
On: K Graham Gano, P Brad Nortman, LS J.J. Jansen
Gano was 8-for-8 on field goals in the exhibitions, including two of 50 yards or longer. Nortman also had a strong preseason, averaging 49.1 yards on 16 punts.
Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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