De'Andre Presley

Panthers Cut White, Boykin; Benjamin To IR

12:03pm: The Panthers have confirmed in a press release that they’ve cut Boykin and Lester, and that they’ve waived White with an injury designation. The club also announced the five other moves it has made to get its roster down to 75 players. Here are those transactions:

Placed on injured reserve:

  • WR Kelvin Benjamin

Waived:

  • DT Kenny Horsley
  • WR De’Andre Presley
  • DT Micanor Regis (waived with injury settlement)
  • T Davonte Wallace (waived/injured)

9:58am: The Panthers have yet to announce their final set of roster moves that will get the team down to 75 players, but a pair of notable Tuesday cuts have already been reported. Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer passes along a tweet from Melvin White, indicating the cornerback has been waived, while Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports (via Twitter) that wide receiver Jarrett Boykin has also been let go.

White, 25, has spent the last two years in Carolina after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He claimed a larger role than expected, starting 17 regular season games for the club and recording 89 tackles to go along with three interceptions over the past two seasons. With Charles Tillman penciled in as a starter this year, White had slipped down the depth chart at cornerback, and was the odd man out.

As for Boykin, his release is somewhat surprising, given the Panthers’ lack of wide receiving talent. Boykin, who totaled 49 of his 57 career receptions in 2013 with the Packers, may have become expendable when Carolina acquired wideout Kevin Norwood from the Seahawks in a trade on Monday. According to Jones, Boykin was cut early in the process to allow him to latch on with another team.

In addition to cutting White and Boykin, the Panthers also waived safety Robert Lester, tweets Person. Person’s role was reduced last season after he started four games for the club in his rookie campaign in 2013.

By my count, the Panthers’ latest moves leave them with 80 players on their roster, so the team will have to announce a few more transactions before 3:00pm central time today.

Panthers Release Jason Avant

11:33am: Speaking to reporters about Avant’s release, head coach Ron Rivera said the decision was about creating more opportunities for young wideouts like Brenton Bersin and Philly Brown (Twitter link via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). Rivera added that he knew nothing about Avant’s comments questioning Sunday’s play-calling, insisting this was a football move (Twitter links).

The Panthers have promoted receiver De’Andre Presley from their practice squad to replace Avant.

11:28am: The Panthers are releasing wide receiver Jason Avant, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). As is the case for all players – even vested veterans – after the trade deadline, Avant will be subject to waivers, so he’ll either be claimed by another team or hit the open market.

Agent Doug Hendrickson first indicated that his client had been cut by the Panthers during the team’s bye week, tweeting, “Much better things ahead and role for Jason Avant. Definitely deserves better.” Hendrickson’s comment suggests that perhaps he and Avant weren’t happy with the way things were handled by the front office in Carolina. The wideout’s release comes on the heels of slightly critical comments he made about the team’s conservative playcalling after Sunday’s loss to the Falcons.

“I’ve been in the league a long time. I know two things. You never want to give a team a chance to win a game, with how much time was left on the clock,” Avant said on Sunday, referring to the game’s fourth quarter. “And asking a kicker to make a 50-yard field goal with the game on the line is rough sledding.”

In 11 games with Carolina this season, Avant grabbed 21 balls for 201 yards and a touchdown. After cutting him, the Panthers will have an open spot on their 53-man roster, so a corresponding move will likely be announced soon.

Practice Squad Updates: Thursday

We’ll use this space to round up today’s practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL:

  • A day after cutting him in order to make room on the roster for Leonard Hankerson, Washington has re-signed cornerback Chase Minnifield to its practice squad, the club announced today (Twitter link).
  • One wide receiver has replaced another on the Panthers‘ practice squad, according to David Newton of ESPN.com, who tweets that the team has added De’Andre Presley and parted ways with Willie Snead.
  • The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker L.J. Fort to their taxi squad, releasing defensive end Ryan Robinson in a corresponding move, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter).

Minor Moves: Tuesday

We’re already tracking today’s practice squad signings and cuts in one post, and we’ll use the space below to keep tabs on Tuesday’s minor 53-man roster transactions. Here’s the latest:

  • Wide receiver Bryan Walters, who was cut over the weekend by the Seahawks, is celebrating his 27th birthday by re-signing with the team, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Seattle also made a few other roster moves, signing tight end Tony Moeaki and cutting linebacker L.J. Fort and defensive back Terrance Parks, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, adding in a second tweet that Parks received an injury settlement.
  • As expected, Washington activated wideout Leonard Hankerson off the PUP list today, cutting cornerback Chase Minnifield in order to accommodate the addition (Twitter link). Earlier today, John Keim of ESPN.com had pointed to cornerback as a position where the club had a surplus and could cut a player to make room for Hankerson.
  • The Saints have signed tackle Nick Becton off the Giants’ practice squad, placing fullback Austin Johnson on injured reserve with a knee injury to create an opening on their 53-man roster, says Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter links).
  • De’Andre Presley was activated from the reserve/PUP list just yesterday, but the Panthers have waived the receiver today, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).

Panthers Waive Chris Ogbonnaya

6:35pm: To fill Ogbonnaya’s roster spot, the Panthers have activated receiver De’Andre Presley from the reserve/PUP list, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

6:06pm: With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart now healthy, the Panthers have trimmed their running back corps by waiving Chris Ogbonnaya, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). The 28-year-old signed with Carolina on September 29, so he spent just over a month with the club while its starters recovered from various injuries.

A 2009 seventh-round pick, Ogbonnaya has made several stops around the NFL during his six-year career, spending time with the Rams, Texans, and Browns before joining the Panthers. His most notable duty came with Cleveland, as he rushed 130 times for 604 yards during parts of three seasons with the Browns. Ogbonnaya saw only 44 offensive snaps this season with the Panthers, but did manage to find the end zone in Week 5 against the Bears. Because he’s not a vested veteran, the Texas product will have to go through waivers before becoming a free agent.

The Panthers will go forward with a trio of Williams, Stewart, and Fozzy Whittaker at tailback, while fullback Mike Tolbert will soon return from IR-DTR. Additionally, the team now has a vacant roster spot, so we should soon see the club add a player to its 53-man squad. Carolina’s offensive line is currently decimated by injury, with Byron Bell, Trai Turner, and Amini Silatolu all dealing with health concerns, so perhaps they’ll look to add some depth along the front five.

PUP, IR-DTR Players Soon Eligible To Practice

Week 6 of the NFL season will come to an end after Monday night’s game between the 49ers and Rams, and when teams begin preparing for Week 7, many of those clubs may be welcoming some players back to practice. Six weeks into the NFL season, players who were placed on the physically unable to perform list or the injured reserve list with the designation to return prior to Week 1’s games will be eligible to return to practice.

Of course, just because those players are able to return to the practice field doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be healthy enough to do so. Players on the PUP list have a five-week window to begin practicing. Once they return to practice, they have three weeks to be added to their respective teams’ active rosters. In other words, a player on the PUP list could theoretically return for his team’s Week 7 game, or could return as late as for his team’s Week 15 contest. If the player doesn’t return to practice or game action in time, he’ll revert to season-ending injured reserve.

Here are the players currently on the physically unable to perform list who can begin practicing as soon as next week:

Players who began the season on the PUP list didn’t participate in any preseason practices, but that’s not the case for players on the injured reserve list with the designation to return. Teams can use this spot on one player per season, placing him on the injured reserve list without necessarily ruling him out for the season. As we explained in an earlier post, players given this designation can begin practicing after six weeks and can return after eight weeks.

That means that players who were placed on IR-DTR prior to Week 1 can begin practicing next week. A player who was placed on IR-DTR after – for instance – Week 2 will have to wait another two weeks to return to practice.

Here’s the list of players currently on IR-DTR who can begin practicing as soon as next week:

Panthers Trim Roster To 75 Players

The Panthers have trimmed their roster from 79 players to 75 without any additional cuts, the team announced today in a press release. Quarterback Matt Blanchard, tight end D.C. Jefferson, and offensive lineman Kevin Matthews were placed on the team’s injured reserve list, while wide receiver De’Andre Presley landed on the PUP list.

Pressley is the latest wideout to be removed from the Panthers’ active roster after the team’s first wave of cuts this week included receivers Marvin McNutt and Tiquan Underwood. Considering the receiving corps was viewed as an area of weakness for Carolina heading into training camp, it’ll be interesting to see if the club addresses the position in free agency at all before the season begins.

Of the four players taken off Carolina’s active roster today, only Matthews has notable regular season experience in the NFL, having started a pair of games for the Titans in 2012.

NFC South Notes: Panthers WRs, Saints TEs

Chalk this up as one of the more amazing tidbits with respect to NFL team’s rosters, as written by The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person: none of the 11 wide receivers on the Panthers roster this spring caught a pass for the team last season.

The Panthers went wide receiver in the first round of the draft, selecting 6-foot-5, 240-pound Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State No. 28 overall. He’ll be looking to replace departed receiver Steve Smith, as will fellow young wideouts Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt, who have been rotating through the first-, second- and third-team offenses in organized team activities.

“One thing we’re trying to make sure is everybody’s getting a lot of reps right now,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “Because when we get to training camp, we want to make sure everybody’s up to speed. We’ve made an emphasis that we’re rotating a lot of players, as much as possible. Wide receiver’s one of those positions.” 

As Person notes in his column, both King and McNutt have impressive collegiate résumés, starring at Georgia and Iowa, respectively. They’ll be competing for the starting receiver spots with Benjamin and three free-agent acquisitions: Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant.

Check out more from the NFC South in the links below…

  • De’Andre Presley was the answer from Rivera when asked if a player has distinguished himself after Wednesday’s OTA, writes The Observer’s Tom Sorensen. Presley, a quarterback in college at Appalachian State, switched to cornerback upon signing with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, and is now trying to make the Panthers roster at wide receiver.
  • The Panthers went defensive tackle back-to-back in the 2013 NFL Draft with the selections of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first and second rounds, respectively, but Short is still in a fight for a starting position, writes Jonathan Jones of The Observer.
  • Six tight ends combine for 20 years of experience on the Panthers roster, and Rivera loves the versatility they bring, ESPN.com’s David Newton reports.
  • While there is no replacing the immense talent of Jimmy Graham, Saints tight ends Ben Watson and Josh Hill are doing what is asked of them at OTAs, including everything Graham would be doing, per The Times-Picayune’s Christopher Dabe.
  • First-round pick receiver Brandin Cooks will be back for the final week of Saints OTAs, believes ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett.
  • Despite suffering two concussions in his rookie season, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said he won’t slow down nor change his reckless ways, Triplett writes.
  • With a defensive-heavy draft, notes ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, the Falcons surely made defensive coordinator Mike Nolan a happy man. Nolan touched on each of the seven defensive players drafted, including a glowing review of Dez Southward, the former Wisconsin safety whom Atlanta selected in the third round: “He’s got really good size and is fast. He’s an intelligent guy. He doesn’t have as much football in his background as other guys because he played late in high school. But he’ll listen, as opposed to somebody that didn’t learn much and then they think that they have all the answers.”