Carolina Panthers

Panthers continue to make changes to roster

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers continued to shuffle their roster Sunday, swapping out three of the 53 spots, with at least two more moves coming today.

They're on the verge of adding two more defensive backs, as they've agreed to bring in former Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley and former Cincinnati, Green Bay and Seattle safety Marquand Manuel.

Wesley would provide a boost for a few special teams units which have struggled during the preseason. He left the Panthers after the 2005 season to sign with Chicago, and was traded to New England during training camp, but didn't make the Patriots final cut.

Their fourth-round pick in 2002, he had 32 career special teams tackles with the Panthers.

Manuel, 28, started 16 games at strong safety for the Packers last year, and could compete for a starting job here as soon as he learns the playbook. The Panthers are extremely thin at the position, especially with projected starter Nate Salley injured.

There's no word on the corresponding moves, though rookie safety Quinton Teal makes sense, and could easily revert to the practice squad if he's released.

Earlier Sunday, the Panthers waived tackle Rashad Butler and center Will Montgomery and placed tight end Michael Gaines on injured reserve, ending his season.

They replaced them on the roster with former Atlanta tackle Frank Omiyale, Baltimore tight end Marcus Freeman and Dallas quarterback Matt Moore.

Of the group, Omiyale's the one with NFL experience, having played in one game. The Falcons fifth-round pick in 2005, he has experience in a similar blocking scheme and has shown the ability to play both left and right tackle.

Moore's an undrafted rookie from Oregon State, a player they tried to sign after the draft. He played well for the Cowboys in the preseason, completing 21-of-29 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

The 6-foot-2, 246-pound Freeman was also an undrafted rookie, who caught nine passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns last year at Notre Dame.

The Panthers thought enough of Gaines this offseason to give him a $1.3 million tender as a restricted free agent. But he quickly lost the starting job to Jeff King, and was actually surpassed by rookie Dante Rosario in several packages.

The shoulder injury which earned him a spot on the list is said to be minor, and could buy him a ticket out of town. The Panthers have five days to negotiate an injury settlement to cut him loose, and there are indications that's exactly what's happening.

General manager Marty Hurney said they were closing in on several players for their practice squad, but had nothing finalized. They'll likely announce that today, and they'll probably try to keep Butler if they clear waivers, though Montgomery isn't eligiblie for the practice squad.

Also Sunday, a pair of players the Panthers released the day before found new homes. Wide receiver Taye Biddle was claimed by Tampa Bay, and guard D'Anthony Batiste was claimed by Atlanta.

Running back Eric Shelton, their second-round pick in 2005, cleared waivers without being claimed.

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