CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers made their final cuts Saturday night, but their roster is far from a finished product.
After releasing 22 players (and suspending wide receiver Steve Smith for the first two games), they're left extremely thin at receiver and without a decent return option.
That situation was underscored by the release of cornerback Ricardo Colclough, just hours after he was arrested for driving while impaired.
"The timing wasn't very good, that's for sure," general manager Marty Hurney said when asked if Colclough's early morning arrest impacted the decision to cut him.
Without Colclough, just-signed wideout Samie Parker or the injured Ryne Robinson (out another three weeks or so with a pair of strained knee ligaments), the Panthers are going to be scouring the waiver wire for returners. When pressed on who might do the jobs in next week's opener at San Diego, Hurney mentioned that cornerback Chris Gamble or Richard Marshall could field punts, while first-round running back Jonathan Stewart was an option on kickoffs.
"We have a couple of options," Hurney said. "That's something we're going to have to sort through."
That search is apt to lead them to pick through discarded players from other teams.
The Panthers are left with just four healthy and eligible receivers for the Chargers game, and one of them is little-known Dominique Thompson, a three-year practice-squader from St. Louis who impressed throughout camp. Hurney called the position "our biggest question mark, injury wise." Of the four, one is D.J. Hackett, who has finished 10 practices since the start of training camp because of knee and toe problems.
There were a few surprise cuts, as veteran safety Terrence Holt and experienced guards Milford Brown and Toniu Fonoti were let go.
The Panthers are going with Nate Salley and Quinton Teal as the backup safeties, with seventh-rounder Mackenzy Bernardeau making the club as the ninth offensive linemen. If one of their starting guards (Travelle Wharton or Keydrick Vincent) went down, they'd use either Geoff Hangartner or Jeremy Bridges there.
As expected, the Panthers hung onto kickoff specialists Rhys Lloyd, who has impressed them throughout camp and during his one-game audition last year with his ability to change field position.
The Panthers also waived defensive end Stanley McClover, tired of waiting for the promising and popular pass-rusher to develop. In his stead, they kept seventh-rounder Hilee Taylor.
Hurney admitted Taylor was "more raw," but they chose his upside over McClover's, who, for all his physical talent, posted one sack in two years.
Seven of their nine draft picks made the roster, with only sixth-round defensive tackle Nick Hayden and seventh-round tackle Geoff Schwartz being waived.
All told, 28 of the 53 men left on the current roster were drafted by the Panthers, not including Smith. Three others (Brad Hoover, Nick Goings and Teal) started here as undrafted rookies, giving them nearly 60 percent of the roster made up of home-grown talent. They also opened last year with 29 picks on their roster, a figure that was tied for eighth in the league.
What they did
Here's a look at the Panthers' final cuts Saturday:
WR Steve Smith.
Terminated veteran contract
G Milford Brown, CB Ricardo Colclough, G Toniu Fonoti, S Terrence Holt, WR Samie Parker, WR Travis Taylor, RB LaBrandon Toefield.
QB Brett Basanez, RB DeCori Brimingham, WR William Buchanon, S Joe Fields, FB Troy Fleming, WR Chris Hannon, DT Nick Hayden, G Evan Mathis, DE Stanley McClover, T Rueben Riley, T Geoff Schwartz, LB Tim Shaw, CB Darren Toney, TE Chad Upshaw, DT Steve Williams.
Players they cut who are practice-squad eligible
Basanez, Birmingham, Hannon, Buchanon, Upshaw, Riley, Schwartz, Hayden, Toney, Fields.