Panthers football is back with their first preseason game set to kickoff in Baltimore tonight at 7:30 pm. Hopefully. Baltimore's field crew won't ruin our Thursday like the Hall of Fame crew did Sunday. Here are the three positions to watch on tonight.
"We have Jonathan Stewart, why is this spot an issue?" Stewart has battled ailments the last several years causing him to not finish a full season. Depth at this spot would be a big key if he suffers another one. Rivera and company know Stew's history and may even sit him through much of the preseason.
Ron Rivera stated earlier this week that Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher are battling each other for a roster spot, meaning one would likely be moved to the practice squad where they could potentially get picked up by another team. Both Wegher and CAP had impressive preseasons last year. CAP earned the roster spot, but he was the draft pick and they may have given him the edge. That advantage won't make him a shoe-in this year. This will probably be my favorite battle to watch the rest of the way.
You're probably wondering why this is second. It's mainly because it already seems that the Panthers feel confident enough that Bradberry and Worley can and will start on the outside. Yes, it is still early and things can most certainly change when live action hits, but the fact that they have Bene’ Benwikere back playing nickel says a lot right now. This will still be one of the biggest things to watch through preseason and we are all anxious to see what happens here.
The last three years we have seen this spot in the depth chart go from desperate to one where we are wondering who will get that final spot. While Benjamin, Funchess, and Ginn are locks to make the squad, second-year USC product Damiere Byrd added some weight and has been making his presence felt all through camp. His progress has even landed notable playing time running with the first team.
Stephen Hill has been suffering setbacks from surgery and will need a pretty strong preseason to earn a spot as well. Wofford alum Brenton "Sunshine" Bersin has had better camps and with competition high he will need a strong performance if Byrd continues to "shine." Philly Brown could be battling for that 4th/5th receiver spot with Byrd this preseason. Some may not know this but Brown leads all Panthers receivers in the playoffs during his time and got up to 200 pounds this offseason. He's putting in the work and it should be fun to watch.
By Tripp Morgan
Follow him on Twitter @TrippMorgan6