8:29am: The Panthers will sign center Fernando Velasco, a source tells Rand Getlin of NFL.com (via Twitter). Velasco recently became a free agent when he was among the Titans’ final cuts before dropping down to a 53-man roster. The veteran will provide depth in Carolina as rookie Daryl Williams is sidelined for 2-to-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
Velasco came to the Panthers as a free agent prior to the 2014 season and while he’s listed as a center, he spent the bulk of 2014 as a guard, playing 407 overall offensive snaps. The 30-year-old wasn’t a core piece of Carolina’s offensive line, but he was a useful part-time player, appearing in multiple games at both right guard and left guard, and not allowing a quarterback sack all year.
In Tennessee, Velasco was expected to challenge for playing time at center, where Brian Schwenke was the favorite to start, but things didn’t work out that way. Velasco, who began his career with the Titans and started all 16 games at center in 2012, boasts 37 starts overall for his career. In 2013 with the Steelers he filled in for injured center Maurkice Pouncey and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him as the team’s fourth-best lineman.