Safety has been a position for the Panthers before Marcus Ball suffered an injury requiring surgery and Dean Marlowe pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. Carolina has been hoping that Tre Boston could step into that starting strong safety and play well enough to have these younger unproven players find enough practice reps where they could step in a supportive role. The problem is that Boston is unproven himself and has played somewhat inconsistently in the preseason.
News broke today that former Cleveland Brown, Donte Whitner, would be working out for the Panthers tomorrow. Early reports from Charlotte News and Observer beat writer, Jonathan Jones, suggests that Whitner would serve in a supportive role if signed. I disagree.
Every season, it seems as Dave Gettleman makes a veteran acquisition to play an important role in Carolina's personnel strategy. We've seen it often in the secondary and, specifically, at safety in the past. Whether it was a Roman Harper, Mike Mitchell, or even a Kurt Coleman, the Panthers have liked a consistent veteran presence in the defensive backfield.
Coleman, who signed a renegotiated contract this past offseason, turned out to be more than a patchwork fix. Boston, who Jones suggest has solidified a starting position, has shown moments where he could be an effective player. He's also been inconsistent. The great plays so often seemed to be accompanied by not so great plays.
Whitner is a tough vet who may just have some good tread on the tires. Last season, he had 58 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble, and that's with missing two games because of a concussion. Just two years ago, Whitner, who some remember as Donte Hitner, had 108 tackles and made his third straight Pro Bowl appearance. He's a guy who has playoff experience with the 49ers and has the professionalism of a guy who can still flourish a place like Cleveland.
This is the Gettleman acquisition we have been waiting for. Each year, he's found a veteran guy who has contributed in a meaningful way. Hitner may very well be that next Roman Harper or Peanut Tillman like presence Carolina has found successfully in the past.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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