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Panthers cut S Reggie Smith, trim roster to 53

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

The Carolina Panthers cut 22 players on Friday to get to the NFL-mandated 53-player roster limit for the regular season.

Among the notable cuts were safety Reggie Smith, who was signed earlier this offseason as a free agent and wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, who had worked as the No. 3 receiver for most of training camp.

Carolina also cut Darius Butler, the team's third cornerback last year, and a former second-round draft pick by New England.

The other cuts included wide receivers Jared Green and LaMont Bryant, running backs Tauren Poole and Armond Smith, tight ends Nelson Rosario and Joe Jon Finley, offensive linemen Bryant Browning, Matt Reynolds, Zack Williams and Justin Wells, defensive linemen Ryan Van Bergen, Nate Chandler and Ogemdi Nwagbuo, linebackers Jason Williams, David Nixon and Kion Wilson, safeties Jordan Pugh and Jonathan Nelson and cornerback R.J. Stanford.

Green is the son of Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green, who spent 20 seasons with the Washington Redskins.

Jason Williams and Pugh both played last season for the Panthers and contributed on defense and special teams, but the team went in a different direction.

Carolina also announced Friday it has acquired safety Colin Jones, a special teams player, from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a future undisclosed draft pick. He's a second-year player the Panthers liked coming out of TCU.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said all of the decisions were ''extremely difficult'' but none more so than at wide receiver and safety.

The Panthers (No. 20 in the AP Pro32) decided to keep wide receiver Armanti Edwards as the sixth receiver over Ajirotutu despite the fact Edwards hasn't caught a pass in his first two seasons with the club.

Edwards, the former Appalachian State quarterback, was believed to be on the roster bubble after the team drafted Joe Adams to return punts, which was the lone role Edwards held last season.

Edwards caught five passes for 69 yards during the preseason, including two receptions Thursday night at Pittsburgh.

''That was one of the difficult decisions because Seyi knows all three spots and has played in this offense before,'' Hurney said. ''But we think Armanti's performance is improving. He has good hands as a receiver and he's very fast. Hopefully he continues to do that. I think you can see a dramatic improvement with him.''

At safety, the Panthers cut Smith and Pugh, who were thought to be fourth and fifth on the depth chart, respectively.

Instead, they made the trade for Jones and kept seventh-round draft pick D.J. Campbell.

Hurney said the Panthers like that Jones can be a strong special teams player, something they expect out of their fifth safety.

''He's very fast and disruptive for a special teams player,'' Hurney said. ''And we felt like D.J. has a lot of promise as a young player.''

It wasn't a surprise, but the Panthers also kept Jimmy Clausen as their third quarterback despite some struggles in the preseason.

Clausen didn't do much to impress in the first three games, but rebounded to throw two touchdown passes in the preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers and put Carolina in position to win the game. However, Justin Medlock missed a late field goal that would have put Carolina ahead for good.

Clausen remains third on the depth chart behind Cam Newton and Derek Anderson.

''That's a position that you want depth,'' Hurney said. ''We like the quarterback room we have right now and they all get along very well. It's a position we've struggled with in the past and anytime you have three guys you're happy with, that's a big plus.''

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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Tagged: 49ers, Panthers, Reggie Smith, Jason Williams, Jimmy Clausen, Armanti Edwards, Jordan Pugh, Seyi Ajirotutu, Joe Jon Finley, Cam Newton, Zack Williams, Colin Jones, Armond Smith, Jared Green, Ryan Van Bergen

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