The Carolina Panthers officially cut their roster to 53 over the weekend, as they prepare for the season opener in San Francisco on Sunday.

The Panthers’ roster cuts certainly came with some surprises, but here are the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s moves.

1. Two kickers?

In arguably the biggest surprise of the weekend, the Panthers decided to keep both of their kickers that were competing for the starting job this summer. Veteran Graham Gano and rookie seventh-round pick Harrison Butker both made it to the 53-man roster, a move not many saw coming. Panthers’ interim general manager Marty Hurney described the situation as “fluid.”

 

“We are fortunate enough to have two kickers that we really like,” Hurney told reporters on Sunday. “We’ll just see how that develops.”

It appears the kicking competition is not over just yet, as the two will compete in practice this week as Hurney explores the trade market for either Gano or Butker.

Hurney did tell reporters that if both kickers were still on the roster by Sunday, “you would think Graham Gano would be the kicker at this point.”

2. Panthers cut fan favorite and preseason MVP Joe Webb

In another surprise move on Saturday, the Panthers cut their third-string quarterback Joe Webb. Webb outplayed primary backup quarterback Derek Anderson this preseason, and he also can play both special teams and wide receiver.

 

After Webb was released, the Panthers claimed rookie quarterback Brad Kaaya off waivers on Sunday. Kaaya was a sixth-round pick out of the University of Miami, and he will serve as the Panthers’ third-string quarterback this season, likely inactive for games unless Cam Newton or Anderson get injured.

3. Rookie Alex Armah wins the fullback job, or does he?

Alex Armah, the sixth-round pick from West Georgia, made the position switch to fullback this summer and managed to beat out veteran Darrel Young. We had previously predicted the Panthers would keep Young and stash Armah on the practice squad, but the team decided to hand the fullback position to the rookie right out of the gate… or did they?

 

The Panthers waived Armah on Sunday, after claiming rookie safety Demetrius Cox off waivers. Armah passed through waivers unclaimed and was signed to the Panthers’ practice squad.

4. Greg Van Roten survives final cuts

Greg Van Roten, who was signed by the Panthers after his tryout on the first day of camp, surprised everyone by making the final 53-man roster. After tryouts with the Chargers and Jets, and stints with the Packers, Seahawks and Jaguars, Van Roten played two seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts.

 

“He’s a guy we basically brought in with three other guys the first day of camp to work out because we needed numbers,” interim general manager Marty Hurney said.

Van Roten is not convinced the Panthers ever intended to sign him at that tryout.

“I don’t think Carolina planned on signing me, honestly, but I had a really good workout and impressed them,” Van Roten said. “Then I had a good training camp and they kept me around.”

Van Roten is a versatile offensive lineman that can play any of the five spots along the line. He will primarily serve as depth at the three interior spots, however.

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