Friday's roundup: Panthers overhaul secondary
Charlotte, N.C. — Four games removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers’ secondary is a mess and in need of “retooling.”
The struggling Panthers (1-3) abruptly cut starting cornerback Bene Benwikere on Friday, five days after giving up 503 yards passing to Matt Ryan and 300 yards receiving to Julio Jones in a 48-33 loss to the Falcons.
Benwikere, who started all four games this season for the Panthers, allowed 228 yards and a touchdown on eight catches to Jones on Sunday according to Pro Football Focus.
The decision means Carolina will have three different starters in the secondary when it hosts Tampa Bay on Monday night. The team’s other starting cornerback James Bradberry said he won’t play because of a turf toe injury, while the Panthers are benching safety Tre Boston in favor of recently acquired veteran Michael Griffin.
“We’re trying to put it together so we can move forward,” coach Ron Rivera said. “It’s a big part of retooling this football team. It’s tough.”
The Panthers rank 14th in the league in pass defense and have allowed eight touchdowns passing in four games.
The Panthers drafted three rookie cornerbacks this past April to help fill the void left by All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, who left for Washington as a free agent.
The addition of Griffin to the starting lineup means strong safety Kurt Coleman will move to free safety.
With Bradberry out at least a week, rookie Daryl Worley is expected to make his first career start alongside Robert McClain against Tampa Bay at cornerback.
The team promoted rookie cornerback Zack Sanchez from the practice squad to take Benwikere’s spot on the roster and he will play the nickel spot.
Four days after declaring Trevor Siemian was still his starting quarterback, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak declined to name Siemian the starter for the Broncos’ game against the Falcons.
Kubiak said he wants to see Siemian throw Saturday after he left last week with a bruised left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Kubiak’s other option is giving rookie Paxton Lynch his first start.
... Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was fined $9,115 for flipping a football at Falcons linebacker Deion Jones and then doing his first-down celebratory signal in Jones’ face.
... Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $24,309 for taunting in a loss at Minnesota on Monday night.
... Falcons linebackers Deion Jones (ankle), De’Vondre Campbell (ankle) and Paul Worrilow (groin) will miss Sunday’s game at Denver.
Jones and Campbell are starters and Worrilow is a former starter.
... LaRoy Reynolds is expected to join Philip Wheeler and Vic Beasley Jr. as starters. Newly signed veteran A.J. Hawk likely will be active as a backup.
... Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring) is doubtful to play against the Steelers.
Wide receiver Eric Decker will miss his second straight game with a partly torn right rotator cuff.
... Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (hamstring) is questionable against the Rams. Running back LeSean McCoy (hand) is also questionable.
... The Patriots placed quarterback Jacoby Brissett on injured reserve with a right thumb injury.
... Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) is doubtful against the Texans.
Dolphins rookie cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Titans.
Game stays put
The Titans’ game against the Dolphins will be played in Miami as scheduled Sunday after South Florida escaped the worst of Hurricane Matthew.