Panthers sign Eku Leota, Eric Rowe and nine others to practice squad ahead of Week 1

The Panthers brought back several familiar faces to their practice squad on Wednesday.

Following the closing of the waiver wire, the team announced the signing of 11 players to the 16-man squad. Defensive lineman Raequan Williams, pass rusher Eku Leota and safety Eric Rowe headlined the group.

The Panthers still have five open spots to fill, but for now, the group is stocked with holdover talent from training camp.

Below are the initial 11 members of the Panthers’ new practice squad:

OT JD Direnzo: The undrafted rookie lineman from Rutgers will get extra seasoning in Charlotte. He could eventually join fellow rookie linemen Chandler Zavala, Ricky Lee and Nash Jensen on the 53-man roster at some point.

G Deonte Brown: The Alabama alum enters his third regular season on the practice squad. He will provide additional depth for the young offensive line group.

C Justin McCray: The journeyman lineman has worked with offensive line coach James Campen in three different NFL cities. He will provide veteran support on the practice field and could be promoted for select games to kick off the season.

RB Spencer Brown: The Panthers decided against keeping Brown on the main roster in favor of stashing him on the practice squad. Brown could be used as a rotational player down the road.

S Eric Rowe: The former second-round pick has plenty of experience on defense and special teams. He could be back on the main roster after Week 1 when his contract won’t be guaranteed.

DT Taylor Stallworth: The journeyman defender made it to the final three ahead of the cutdown deadline. He will look to stay relevant in the defensive line mix behind the five defensive linemen on the main roster.

DT Raequan Williams: The former Eagles lineman stood out during the summer. However, that performance apparently wasn’t enough to earn a 53-man roster spot. Williams will look to continue to impress the coaches in practice.

OLB Josh Thomas: The tight end-turned-outside linebacker will get more development after all. Thomas is learning a new position, so the Panthers will take their time with him.

CB Mark Milton: The undrafted rookie cornerback will get to provide support behind the main roster depth chart this season. The Panthers like Milton, but he needs to prove that he can hang on the main roster.

OLB Eku Leota: The rookie pass rusher shined throughout training camp at Wofford College this summer. The Panthers decided to go in a different direction on the main roster, but Leota could punch his ticket to the 53-man squad by standing out in practice.

CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver: The 2020 seventh-round pick had his momentum derailed in the preseason after suffering an undisclosed injury. He will look to make up ground in practice now that he is healthy again. Thomas-Oliver has versatility in the secondary and is a standout on special teams.