Projecting the Carolina Panthers’ Week 1 depth chart

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The Carolina Panthers are not a finished product as we scoot through this Labor Day weekend. But they’ll need to turn something in ahead of Week 1, despite the work that’s left to be done to the roster.

We take a crack at that here, as we give you our projections for the team’s first regular-season depth chart as they prepare to host the New York Jets in the 2021 opener.

Quarterback

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QB1: Sam Darnold QB2: P.J. Walker Looks as though the Panthers will be content with just two quarterbacks on active roster, at least for now. So expect practice squad signee James Morgan to only serve in his mole duties against the Jets this week.

Running back

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RB1: Christian McCaffrey RB2: Chuba Hubbard RB3: Royce Freeman Although the coaching staff seems intent on using their fourth-rounder in Hubbard, new addition Freeman could eventually overtake him for carries as he settles into Carolina. For now, Hubbard backs up McCaffrey because of the advantage in familiarity.

Wide receiver

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

LWR: DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., Alex Erickson RWR: Robby Anderson, Brandon Zylstra Rookie Shi Smith may miss some time with that shoulder injury, so he could be inactive early on. We'll replace his spot with Erickson, who the team brought in for a visit on Friday and could sign to man return duties.

Tight end

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

LTE: Dan Arnold, Tommy Tremble RTE: Ian Thomas, Colin Thompson The Panthers are going relatively heavy with tight ends. Tremble's abilities on special teams will allow them some flexibility in the personnel here to start the year.

Offensive line

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LT: Cameron Erving, Trent Scott LG: Pat Elflein, Dennis Daley, Michael Jordan C: Matt Paradis RG: John Miller, Deonte Brown RT: Taylor Moton, Brady Christensen We already know this is how the starters are rolling out, per head coach Matt Rhule.

Defensive line

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LDE: Brian Burns, Marquis Haynes, Darryl Johnson LDT: Derrick Brown, Daviyon Nixon, Phil Hoskins RDT: DaQuan Jones, Bravvion Roy RDE: Morgan Fox, Yetur Gross-Matos This group could surprise a lot of the football world this season. Burns heads a young, fast and hungry core that can be utilized in a number of different ways by defensive coordinator Phil Snow.

Linebacker

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

LOLB: Shaq Thompson, Julian Stanford MLB: Jermaine Carter Jr., Clay Johnston ROLB: Haason Reddick, Frankie Luvu The depth isn't exactly proven here. But Carter Jr. and Luvu are two exciting names that've built up their value this summer.

Cornerback

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LCB: Donte Jackson, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III RCB: Jaycee Horn, Keith Taylor FS: Jeremy Chinn, Myles Hartsfield SS: Juston Burris, Sam Franklin, Sean Chandler With A.J. Bouye out for the first two weeks, Thomas-Oliver slots in behind Jackson with rookies Horn and Taylor on the opposite side. Hartsfield is a key for the group's depth, as he'll be used out of the nickel.

Specialists

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

KR: Alex Erickson PR: Alex Erickson LS: J.J. Jansen P: Joseph Charlton K: Ryan Santoso Again, Erickson is not on the roster, but could very well be signed to fill that very empty role at both return spots. And, of course, every Panthers fans' favorite boot, Santoso, lasts into the opener. [vertical-gallery id=639942]

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