The Carolina Panthers announced today that they have signed free agent cornerback Drayton Florence to give them some additional depth for their severely banged up secondary. To make room for him on the 53 man roster, the team waived center Brian Folkerts. In addition, rookie Robert Lester will not only get to play in his first NFL game against the Giants on Sunday, he will start at strong safety.
The 32 year old Florence has played for the Chargers, Jaguars, Bills and Lions. Originally drafted by San Diego in the second round of the 2003 draft, he joins Carolina with 18 career interceptions, 95 passes defensed and 395 tackles in 142 games, 99 starts. A 10 year veteran, Florence was in training camp with the Panthers this year and was one of the final cuts before the regular season.
"Hopefully, with my veteran leadership, I can help shore up the back end a little bit," Florence said via Twitter.
The Panthers were crippled by injuries during last Sunday’s loss to the Bills with Charles Godfrey being placed on injured reserve with three others likely out against the Giants – S Quintin Mikell plus CBs Josh Norman and Josh Thomas. Yesterday CBs Greg Gatson and De'Andre Presle were signed to the practice squad for additional protection.
Lester, 25, was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in May and two days ago was signed off the practice squad. A 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, he played in 48 games with 40 starts at Alabama recording 147 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 14 interceptions, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The Crimson Tide won three National Championships while he was there.
Notes: The Panthers also announced today that the NFL’s bag policy designed to enhance safety will be strictly enforced at Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants. It is requested that fans arrive 30 minutes earlier than they have in the past and refrain from bringing items that require a bag check.
“The process has worked very well thus far,” says Director of Stadium Operations Scott Paul in a release. “The fans are now familiar with the policy and we will adhere to a strict enforcement for the benefit of all.”