Carolina Panthers will start Robert Lester at SS, major depth issues

Carolina Panthers helmet lays on the field during training camp held at Wofford College. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 0-2 Carolina Panthers are having some awful luck in the secondary, and they have one of the league’s most depleted secondaries after already coming into the season with plenty of question marks in the defensive backfield. Charles Godfrey is out for the season after tearing his Achilles against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, and it was a devastating blow for the Panthers. Not only is Godfrey is a solid coverage safety, but he is also a leader in the locker room. Godfrey’s injury left the Carolina Panthers with very little depth at safety, but he wasn’t the only safety to sustain an injury in that game. Starting strong safety Quintin Mikell is excellent in run defense and at blitzing, but the ever-underrated veteran is out for at least tomorrow’s game against the New York Giants.

Those two injuries have caused Mike Mitchell to move from strong to free safety as the starter, but that’s not a huge issue. Although Mitchell will most likely struggle at FS, he was a projected starter on the Panthers defense before the signing of Mikell; they can live with Mitchell as a starter. However, the Panthers have to start undrafted free agent Robert Lester at strong safety due to both starters being injured, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Jones.

Lester will almost certainly be a tremendous liability against Eli Manning and the Giants wealth of pass-catching threats, and the Carolina Panthers can only hope that they won’t have an immense drop-off in run defense- and even blitzing- between Mikell and Lester. I don’t think highly of Lester as a player, but he could surprise me (and others) if he can step up tomorrow.

The Panthers are so thin in the secondary right now that it just seems unfair. Cornerback Josh Thomas is also out, which means that the Carolina Panthers might even have to start recent veteran re-signing Drayton Florence at the cornerback spot opposite of dependable starter Captain Munnerlyn. Against the Giants, this lack of depth is a huge concern.

And God forbid if another safety on the Panthers goes down with an injury, because then they would have to play emergency safety Colin Jones. Let me emphasize “emergency” there, because it is definitely not ideal for the Panthers to have to start Jones. D.J. Moore is a solid slot cornerback and would have made perfect sense as an emergency safety, but he is yet another defensive back on the Panthers who is injured.

So yeah, it could be a really long day for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter for more NFL updates and analysis @SorianoJoe. Be sure to like us on Facebook here and follow our site on Twitter as well.

Topics: Carolina Panthers, Colin Jones, D.J. Moore, Giants Vs Panthers, Josh Thomas, Mike Mitchell, Quintin Mikell, Robert Lester

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