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Why Carolina Panthers went shopping for defensive backs

By The Sports Xchange
Why Carolina Panthers went shopping for defensive backs
The Carolina Panthers looked outside the organization to bolster their secondary by trading for cornerback Kevon Seymour (left) from the Buffalo Bills on the day that rosters were trimmed to 53 players. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bills/Twitter

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers looked outside the organization to bolster their secondary by trading for cornerback Kevon Seymour from the Buffalo Bills on the day that rosters were trimmed to 53 players. The deal wasn't officially reported to the league until Sunday.

By adding Seymour, it helped make up for uncertainty regarding cornerbacks Teddy Williams and Zack Sanchez, who each appeared ready to make the roster at times. However, they both left Thursday night's preseason finale with injuries and the Panthers apparently didn't want to take a chance regarding their situations because they both ended up on reserve/injured during the weekend.

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The Panthers sent wide receiver Kaelin Clay to the Bills as part of the trade.

Williams, a sixth-year pro, suffered what he described as a stinger in the preseason finale. He was listed as leaving the game with a shoulder injury. "I passed all the tests," he said afterward.

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Williams had a tipped ball on a first-half blitz that resulted in linebacker David Mayo's interception Thursday night.

Sanchez was dealing with an apparent groin injury.

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That kicking competition really must have been extra tight between Graham Gano and Harrison Butker, a seventh-round draft pick in the spring. On the initial roster cutdown, the Panthers kept both kickers among the 53 players.

It would seem unlikely that both kickers remain on the active roster, so another move could be in the works.

Head coach Ron Rivera said that both kickers had performed well and that they went into the last days of the preseason in a battle with little separation. That sentiment seemed to be confirmed by Saturday's roster announcement.

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Gano missed a 51-yard attempt that hit off the upright Thursday night. Both of his misses in the preseason bounced off uprights.

Interim general manager Marty Hurney said this weekend that it's possible that both kickers could remain with the team. If so, Gano would have the first shot in games, Hurney said.

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Tight end Greg Olsen received a contract extension during the final week of the preseason.

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"I feel very respected that they recognize that there was something that could be done," Olsen said. "I think at the end of the day we found a good solution to it and I think it's a win-win for everybody."

Olsen is entering his 11th NFL season. Since arriving in a July 2011 trade from the Chicago Bears, he ranks third in team history with 428 receptions and 5,384 receiving yards.

Olsen and veteran linebacker Thomas Davis had entered training camp seeking new deals, something that was taken care of by interim general manager Marty Hurney. Davis landed a new contract a couple of weeks ago.

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Running back Fozzy Whittaker's hometown is Houston so the flooding there from Hurricane Harvey has been on his mind a lot recently. He scored a first-quarter touchdown in the preseason finale against Pittsburgh.

"I just want to help the team win," Whittaker said. "I want to help the people back home in Houston."

Whittaker, wide receiver Russell Shepard and cornerback Teddy Williams were dubbed game captains for Thursday night's matchup because they all have specific ties to Houston.

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"I just felt that they represent their hometown very well," head coach Ron Rivera said of the trio. "I'm very proud of who they are and I know those three men are trying to organize and do some things out there to do whatever they can to help the Houston victims."

Looking around the roster:

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Quarterback Brad Kaaya, a rookie out of Miami, was claimed on waivers from the Detroit Lions. The Carolina quarterbacks coach is Ken Dorsey, also a former Miami quarterback. Kaaya figures to be the team's third quarterback.

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Fullback Alex Armah was waived by the Panthers, leaving the team without a true fullback pending an additional move.

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Cornerback Corn Elder was placed on reserve/injured Sunday. He was expected to be considered for contributions on special teams, particularly as a return specialist so it could be a blow in several areas.

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Linebacker Ben Boulware, a key player for Clemson in its national championship run last season, and linebacker Zeek Bigger, who's from nearby Gastonia and played collegiately for East Carolina, might have been sentimental favorites during the preseason but neither made the Carolina roster.

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