The Carolina Panthers have dealt with several injuries this offseason. The two biggest injuries were to starting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and defensive end Frank Alexander. Both players are done for the season and this has put some doubt in their fan's minds.
According to Steve Reed of the Associated Press, Shula mentioned that they would need to replace Benjamin's production "by committee." The wide receivers that are currently on the roster include: Jarrett Boykin, Mike Brown, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn Jr., Brenton Bersin, Jerricho Cotchery, Devin Funchess, Damiere Byrd, Marcus Lucas, and Avius Capers. There a lot of players in the Panthers' receiver "committee", but who else is there at the defensive end position?
The three defensive ends that are battling for a starting spot opposite of Charles Johnson are Kony Ealy, Mario Addison, and Wes Horton. Kony Ealy was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and is viewed as having lots of potential. Mario Addison is in his fifth season and finished last season with 6.5 sacks. But who is Wes Horton?
Wes Horton played college ball at the University of Southern California. He had his most successful season his senior year where he was listed as All Pac-12 Honorable mention. During his college career he recorded 74 tackles and 8 sacks.
Coming out of college Horton wasn't seen as an impactful defensive lineman. According to NFL.com, he had the size and length needed for the NFL but was uncoordinated. The Carolina Panthers took a chance on Horton and signed him in 2013. Greg Hardy was added to the exempt list and Horton finally had his shot. But it didn't work out well for him last season. He started in 16 games and only had 3 sacks. Other defensive ends Mario Addison and Kony Ealy did a better job at filling the void left by Hardy.
But this is a new year and this offseason provides another opportunity for Wes Horton. Horton has had reps with the first team defense and has shown his ability to stop the run. In two preseason games, he he has also shown his ability to create pressure on the quarterback. He has created havoc in the backfield and has recorded 5 tackles (1 for loss), and 1 sack. Wes Horton is playing well and could be a breakout candidate this season.
Who do you see starting at defensive end for the Carolina Panthers?
By, Justin Raymond
Follow Me On Twitter @JayRay19