The Panthers got something for a guy they were likely going to release for nothing in the next few weeks. Well, conditionally.
Tuesday’s night trade of running back Kenjon Barner to the Eagles netted the Panthers a conditional 2015 seventh-round draft pick. In trades like this, the condition is typically one that requires the player to make his new team’s 53-man roster.
So, if Barner is still with the Eagles at the end of the month, the Panthers probably get that seventh-rounder. If he’s not, they won’t.
The Kenjon Barner trade moves Fozzy Whittaker and Darrin Reaves up in the running back pecking order. But after Whittaker’s impressive performance against the Chiefs, and Reaves’s return to practice Tuesday, Barner’s snaps were bound to come down anyway.
The Panthers now have four tailbacks on the roster (Whittaker, Reaves, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart), but fullback Mike Tolbert is pretty much a hybrid. They could pick up another back to fill Barner’s spot, but with less than three weeks before the season and less than a week until the first cutdown, that’s not a move they necessarily have to make.
A couple weeks ago, when talking about tackle David Foucault, Rivera pronounced the French Canadian’s first name as if he were walking down the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. “If you are French, it’s Da-veeed,” Rivera explained.
Tuesday, when asked if he was ready to name Byron Bell his starting left tackle, Rivera broke out a French term that means ‘done deal.’
“He’s done such a good job. I’m going to say it; it’s a fait accompli,” Rivera said. “He and I will sit down and have a conversation about it. I’m going to sit down and talk with the coaches and make sure we’re all set, confident and comfortable.”
Many fans remain less than comfortable with the prospect of who will be protecting quarterback Cam Newton’s blindside, but Bell played well in both preseason games, and he handily beat out Nate Chandler.
Bell will take some lumps, but so will all of the elite tackles taken in May’s draft. Former left tackle Jordan Gross did, and he was a first-round pick.
In just over three years, Bell has gone from undrafted rookie to a 47-game starter at right tackle to earning a promotion to the left side. It may not work out permanently, but perhaps it’s time to at least temporarily back a guy who’s already come so far.
“He’s done some things on the left side that he didn’t do on the right side that have been impressive,” Rivera said. “But the biggest thing we keep forgetting is, he’s a natural left-hander.
“His punch is a lot better, and his first step is a little bit better. Again that’s because he’s working off his left side. Having seen that, I have confidence that he can do the job for us.”
Benwikere spent most of Tuesday’s practice playing with the starters at nickel corner, where Charles Godfrey has been getting the majority of work the last month.
It’s unclear if Benwikere will be ahead of Godfrey when the Panthers play Friday in New England, but it’s obvious the coaches want to see more of the ball-hawking rookie.
Tight end Mike McNeill and running back Darrin Reaves each injured their knees in the preseason opener. They both returned to practice Tuesday.
After playing 28 games the last two years in St. Louis, McNeill signed a two-year deal with the Panthers in March. But tight end is one of the most-stacked positions on the team, and he’s sitting squarely on the bubble.
“There was a moment or two when (the knee) was catching up on me (during practice), but for the most part, it felt pretty good,” McNeill said.
Reaves, who went undrafted in May, never missed a game during his three seasons at UAB. So while he admitted the thought of fighting for a job helped him get back to work, he mainly went back out there because football is what he does.
“Whether I was an undrafted free agent, first round, second round, it doesn’t matter,” Reaves said. “I had to get back on the field.”
Defensive tackle Casey Walker (340 lbs) + guard Trai Turner (320 lbs) + tackle Nate Chandler (315 lbs) + defensive end Charles Johnson (285 lbs) + defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh (310 lbs) = 1,570 lbs of beef on the bikes.
Of the five, Turner and Johnson’s injuries are the most concerning for the immediate future.
Turner, the 21-year-old rookie who’s played like a veteran since earning a starting role early in OTAs, tweaked his groin Sunday. That’s also when Johnson reaggravated the hamstring injury that forced him out of seven practices in Spartanburg.
Other guys out Tuesday: linebacker Chase Blackburn (back), safety Roman Harper (toe), and safety Tre Boston (groin). But Harper and Boston each got in a good bit of work on the side, and there’s hope they each could return early next week.
- Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell on facing his former teammates this week, and Cam Newton’s “night and day” growth. — BBR
- Cam-Grams. — Instagram
- Former Panthers running back charged with stealing a … leaf blower. — Rockdale Citizen