Carolina Panthers release unofficial depth chart ahead of season opener
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Carolina Panthers release unofficial depth chart ahead of season opener

Article written by:James Fletcher IIIJames Fletcher III

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Carolina-Panthers-release-unofficial-depth-chart-ahead-season-opener
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers released their unofficial depth chart after trimming to a 53-man roster. The Panthers new-look roster will open the regular season on Sunday against the New York Jets.

Carolina finished in third place in the NFC South with a 5-11 record last season. They have not made the playoffs since a wildcard round exit in 2017.

Offense

Starting quarterback: Sam Darnold

Darnold takes over the starting job in Carolina after an offseason trade. The former No. 3 overall pick has been given a second chance to kickstart his NFL career under Matt Rhule. P.J. Walker beat out former Panthers quarterback Will Grier for the backup job and is listed behind Darnold on the depth chart.

Starting running back: Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey returns after having his 2020 season cut short by injury. The all-purpose back brings high expectations as the team brings in two new backups in Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman. The Panthers also lists presumptive fullback Giovanni Ricci, signed as a UDFA tight end last season, as the fourth string running back.

Starting wide receivers: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson

Moore is the Panthers top wide receiver, lining up on the left side to start the season. Anderson provides Darnold with a familiar face from his time in New York with Terrace Marshall Jr., Brandon Zylstra and Shi Smith in reserve.

Starting tight ends: Dan Arnold, Ian Thomas

After naming just two starting wide receivers, the Panthers decide to list two starting tight ends. Arnold and Thomas will start for the team which bring four tight ends into the regular season.

Starting offensive line: Cameron Erving (LT), Pat Elflein (LG), Matt Paradis (C), John Miller (RG), Taylor Moton (RT)

Erving, Elflein, Paradis, Miller and Moton get the start for the Panthers in Week One. The team does not feature a backup center but has rookies Deonte Brown and Brady Christensen in reserve on the right side.

Defense

Starting defensive line: Brian Burns (LDE), Derrick Brown (LDT), DaQuan Jones (RDT), Morgan Fox (RDE)

Brian Burns and Derrick Brown form a young but talented combination on the left side of the line as Jones and Fox provide a veteran presence on the right. Yatur Gross-Matos and Daviyon Nixon are among the notable backups on the defensive line.

Starting linebackers: Shaq Thompson (LOLB), Haason Reddick (ROLB), Jermaine Carter (MLB)

Thompson, Reddick and Carter form a formidable linebacker core with versatility as a group of pass rushers who can help in coverage as well.

Starting cornerbacks: Donte Jackson (LCB), Jaycee Horn (RCB)

The Panthers list just four cornerbacks on the depth chart with Jackson and Horn getting the start. As the Panthers first-round pick, Horn brings high expectations and an NFL legacy to the secondary.

Starting safeties: Juston Burris (SS), Jeremy Chinn (FS)

Chinn returns for his second season after an impressive rookie campaign beside Juston Burris.

Specialists

Starting specialists: Ryan Santoso (PK), Joseph Charlton (P), J.J. Jansen (LS), Shi Smith (KR)

After sutting fan favorite Joey Slye during the preseason, the Panthers turn to Ryan Santoso at kicker. All four specialists are the only player listed on the depth chart as Smith handles both kickoffs and punts and Charlton handles the holding duties.