The defensive backs struggled last season. To their credit, however, the front seven struggled to pressure the quarterback, leaving opposing receivers more time to get open. Despite criticism, Chris Gamble has been a solid number one option at cornerback for the Panthers. Captain Munnerlyn is an excellent option at nickelback, but lacks the size to be a solid number two option. At 5-foot-8, Munnerlyn has consistently struggled against taller NFL receivers. Brandon Hogan, the Panthers fourth-round pick in 2011, was injured last season and will get his chance to compete with Munnerlyn for that number two spot. Josh Norman, the Panthers' fifth-round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina, impressed coaches with his coverage of Steve Smith during practice. However, practice is, well, practice, and Norman will have to prove himself in the preseason.
Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin, last year's starting safeties, will be back this season. Godfrey has been a solid option at strong safety, and provided that he stays healthy, will start again this season. At times, Sherrod Martin has struggled with being out of position, resulting in big plays from the opposition. Due to the Martin’s struggles and the abysmal play of back up Jordan Pugh, the Panthers brought in Haruki Nakamura, the former backup of All-Pro strong safety Ed Reed. Nakamura will likely get every opportunity to compete with Martin for that second safety spot in the preseason.
Solid Starters: Chris Gamble, Charles Godfrey
Shaky Starters: Captain Munnerlyn, Sherrod Martin
In the mix: Brandon Hogan, Josh Norman, Brandon Hogan, Jonathan Nelson, R.J. Stanford, Darius Butler
Overall Grade: C
Other News: It has been confirmed that offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who the Panthers traded to the New York Jets for an undisclosed conditional draft pick, will return to the Panthers after failing to pass a physical.
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