Continuing with our positional previews for Carolina Panthers Training Camp (check out the defensive line preview here, the linebackers preview here, and previews for all of the offensive positions here), we move our focus towards the cornerbacks.
Last season, one of the biggest surprises on the Panthers defense was the emergence of Captain Munnerlyn, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth. He performed so well that Carolina simply couldn’t afford to keep him and he’s now a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Drayton Florence, who was signed to replace Chris Gamble, was simply too old and he’s no longer on the team either. So that means it’s going to be an all-new set of starting cornerbacks this year.
The one new face is Antoine Cason, a former first-round pick, who is a very sure tackler and is the most talented cornerback the team has had since Gamble retired. The starting spot opposite Cason will be decided between three young and unheralded players who’ve each been on the Panthers roster for at least a season.
Here are the candidates:
-Melvin White: Signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and played in 15 games. He had 47 tackles, including 14 in the final two weeks of the regular season, as well as five tackles in the playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. His most notable play was a game-changing pick-six against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 that turned things around and helped the Panthers clinic the NFC South.
-Josh Thomas: Has been with the Panthers since being claimed off waivers in 2011. He’s played in 38 games over the past three seasons with Carolina and was second on the team in passes defended in 2012 with seven.
-Josh Norman: Drafted in the fifth round by the Panthers in 2012. At 6’0″, the Coastal Carolina product is tall for a cornerback, which is en vogue in today’s NFL after the Seattle Seahawks took advantage of larger cornerbacks such as Richard Sherman and Walter Thurmond III to win the Super Bowl. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, amassing an impressive 73 tackles, but was hampered by an MCL sprain last season and only played in seven games.