The biggest surprises from 21 cuts the Panthers made Saturday had more to do with who wasn’t let go than who was. Three months after they arrived in Charlotte as long shots, offensive linemen Andrew Norwell and David Foucault had climbed all the way up to the active roster.
Norwell, an undrafted rookie from Ohio State, quietly moved up the depth chart as the summer months went on. The 6-6, 310-pounder can play both guard and tackle, flexibility the Panthers covet.
Yet as Norwell continued to show well during the preseason, the numbers weren’t in his favor. A spot on the 53-man roster was unlikely, but he had at least earned a practice squad invite.
That invitation never went out.
The Panthers were so impressed by Norwell, they found a place for him on the active roster. To do it, they had to cut a guy who started eight games last year. But guard Chris Scott was not always in the best of shape, and he’s five years older than Norwell.
The 22-year-old was Saturday’s first surprise, but he wasn’t the biggest.
While Norwell went undrafted, he did spend four years at Ohio State, a college football powerhouse that’s sent more than 400 Buckeyes to the NFL. Foucault played offensive line for three seasons at the University of Montreal. No Carabin had ever made an NFL roster. Until now.
During their morning meeting with Foucault, the Panthers told the French Canadian he’d be released, but they promised a spot on the practice squad.
Foucault left the stadium ecstatic. He was the first player from his school to make it that far.
“I talked with my family and my friends to say the good news — I’m on the team, on the practice squad,” Foucault said over the phone Saturday.
But the Panthers were nervous. While still very raw, Foucault wasn’t entirely overmatched during his brief time in the States. Another team may have noticed, which meant putting the 6-8, 305-pounder on waivers was risky.
So the Panthers quickly changed their minds. Foucault was on the team.
“After like two hours I get this phone call, and I was so excited,” Foucault said. “I called my parents back, and they started to cry and yell.”
Did the gigantic football player shed some tears as well?
“Oh yeah. I can say that. Yeah.”
Foucault’s Saturday night celebration plans included more phone calls with family and friends in Canada. He hoped to go to bed before 10 because he had to work in the morning.
If the Panthers add a free agent or two Sunday, Foucault or Norwell may end up on waivers after all. But for one night, at least, the two long shots were on an active NFL roster.
“(The Panthers) can make another decision,” Foucault said. “But right now, they gave me this good news and I’m very happy.”
- A look at all the cuts. — BBR
- Analyzing the offense. — BBR
- And the defense. — BBR
- T.J. Olsen is getting closer to going back home. — Twitter
- A feature on 2007 5th-round pick Tim Shaw, who’s battling ALS. — Chicago Tribune
- Math expects the Panthers to win 8.5 games. — FiveThirtyEight
- James Dockery says goodbye to Charlotte. — Twitter