Examining the Carolina Panthers' roster:
As impressive as third-stringer Joe Webb was in Friday night's preseason opener, leading the team in passing and rushing, roster spots are too valuable to keep three quarterbacks. Webb was signed to simulate the things Newton did while the franchise quarterback recovered from offseason ankle surgery. Coach Ron Rivera says Newton will be turned loose to run soon, which makes Webb expendable.
Running backs (4)
The top three are a given and Barner is the leading candidate to return kicks, in addition to his running back duties. Darrin Reaves looked good on Friday and has had moments in camp, but it will become a numbers game for him.
The battle for the final spot is tightening with undrafted rookies Philly Brown and Marcus Lucas starting to make plays. The Panthers love the speed of Tiquan Underwood, but he continues to show a tendency to drop passes. Pilares joins the top six now because he is the leading kickoff retuner, but that could change.
Tight ends (5)
Normally, I would say four players here, but the Panthers plan to run a lot of two-tight-end sets and Brockel also doubles as a fullback. Williams was a wild card early, but has shown he deserves a spot. McNeil sprained his right knee against Buffalo on Friday, so that could change the picture here. He was brought in primarily as a blocker. He'd be the bubble guy now.
Offensive linemen (9)
The left tackle job appears to be Bell's to lose. The rest of the front line appears set, barring injury. The key here is flexibility. Williams and Chandler can play tackle or guard. Turner can play guard and backup center. Folkerts can play center and guard.
Defensive line (9)
DE Frank Alexander should be on here. He's had a great camp. But he will be suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He will return to the 53-man roster in October.
Again, flexibility is key. Blackburn can step in and replace Kuechly if he ever had to come off the field. Many of these players will be on special teams. D.J. Smith could figure into the mix.
Nickelback Godfrey was beaten badly for a 32-yard pass against Buffalo early. He still hasn't fully adjusted in his move from safety to corner. The Panthers restructured his contract to keep him on the roster and really love his leadership. If he improves, there will be some tough cuts. I moved Josh Norman into my top five over Josh Thomas after his interception on Friday.
The good thing about having Godfrey at cornerback is he could move back to safety if an injury occurs here. It doesn't appear that fourth-round pick Tre Boston, who has been hampered by injuries, will figure into the mix.
These positions are set, barring an injury.