At the end of training camp, the Carolina Panthers coaching staff had a big decision to make at linebacker.
The Panthers knew Thomas Davis, Jon Beason and James Anderson were starters. Carolina knew Dan Connor, Jason Williams and Omar Gaither were the backups. That left Thomas Williams, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve a few weeks ago due to a neck injury, rookie Lawrence Wilson and Jordan Senn to battle for one spot.
Thomas, a journey man who played for several teams before joining the Panthers, had played well during the preseason. He led the Panthers with 21 tackles in four exhibition games. So, it was natural the final spot would go to the Thomas, a USC product, and Wilson and Senn would get pink slips.
The Panthers coaching staff did what is best for the team and kept eight linebackers.
ICONLB Jordan Senn is playing a valuable role for Ron Rivera's defense in Carolina.
Wilson, who is no longer with Carolina, was released and signed to the practice squad. Thomas and Senn were added to the roster, and the Panthers decided to release other high profile players such as defensive end Everette Brown, fullback Tony Fiammetta, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, receiver Wallace Wright and running back Tyrell Sutton.
The move to keep an eighth linebacker, Senn, has been huge for a team who has had more than its share of injuries at that position. Moreover, Senn has taken advantage of the opportunity to play a role beyond special teams by having the ability to play each linebacker position.
“When we were going into camp we saw how many linebackers we had and all the guys were saying, ‘It is going to be tough seeing (that many linebackers on the team),” Senn said. “We didn’t know we were going to keep so many linebackers. We were thinking, ‘Who are they going to release. This is tough. We are deep at backer.’ It showed they had a hard time releasing guys, and they decided to keep eight. It makes you feel good as a whole when you have that many guys who can play.”
Senn, now in his fourth year out of Portland State, has waited patiently to start while being one of the Panthers best players on special teams.
Two weeks ago against the Detroit Lions, Senn made his first start at middle linebacker in place of Connor (neck/shoulder stinger) and finished the game with six tackles (three solo). Then last week, he topped that performance by moving to weakside linebacker in place of Gaither). Senn finished with a 10-tackle (three-solo) performance in the Panthers’ 27-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Moreover, Senn’s road to the NFL hasn’t been effortless. He plays a position, which is the strongest on the team. He was waived twice by the Colts before signing with the Panthers in November of 2009.
Senn, who went undrafted in 2008, said he doesn’t have any resentment toward the Colts. He is grateful for the opportunity Indianapolis gave him. He maintained there wasn’t a revenge factor when he met his former employer last week.
Senn understands the NFL is a business, and he didn’t take it personal after getting waived a second time by the Colts. Instead, Senn worked out five weeks until the Panthers gave him a call. He said his previous experiences prepared him for life in the NFL.
“I just try to take advantage of every opportunity,” he said. “When I went to college I didn’t get a lot of big schools that wanted to recruit me. They wanted me to walk on. I just took the opportunity I had (at Portland State) and went to the school that wanted me and played and stayed by my hometown. I never thought about what I’m going to do next year. It was about what I’m going to do now.”
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