Linebacker numbers force Panthers into roster move

AP

The Panthers are getting a lot of injured players back at linebacker, but there’s apparently some concern as to how available they’re going to be in the coming weeks.

To give themselves some cover, they’re signing linebacker David Nixon, who was in minicamp with them on a tryout basis earlier this offseason. To make room for him on the roster, they waived running back Armond Smith, who they claimed off waivers from Cleveland in May.

Nixon has played in a total of 15 games with the Raiders, Texans and Rams. Nothing against the BYU product, but his acquisition as the Panthers 10th linebacker is mostly pertinent for what it means for the starters.

If Jon Beason (Achilles) and Thomas Davis (bionic knee) aren’t ready to go from the start of camp, the Panthers will find themselves short on numbers for practice. Another backup, Jason Phillips, also ended last year on injured reserve.

And if Beason’s not able to practice every day, that means more chances for them to look at Luke Kuechly in the middle, which could be his ultimate destination regardless.

Davis, coming off three ACL tears, figures to be a situational player anyway, as they’re expected to start some combination of Kuechly, Beason and James Anderson.

It’s a group with talent, but if they can’t see them work regularly, it’s going to be hard to answer one of the biggest questions about a questionable defense.