Max Henson Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE, NC September 19, 2013 – Drayton Florence is back.
After releasing the veteran cornerback during the final roster cutdown, the Carolina Panthers re-signed Florence on Thursday and waived center Brian Folkerts.
“I’m glad they thought enough of me to bring me back. I’m here to seize the opportunity and help this team get a win,” Florence said.
“Hopefully, with my veteran leadership, I can help shore up the back end a little bit.”
Florence, who initially signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, was a first-team cornerback throughout his first training camp and preseason in Carolina.
However, the Panthers opted to go with younger options when finalizing the 53-man roster, but a recent slew of injuries in the defensive backfield has created a need. Given his familiarity with the team and vast NFL experience, Florence was brought back as the Panthers prepare to play the New York Giants in Week 3.
Florence said he was “sprinkled in” with the first-team defense in his first day back.
“It’s like he never left, honestly,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He just fit right in. It was good to have him back.”
Florence has 18 career interceptions in 10 NFL seasons. He spent 2012 with the Detroit Lions, recording 17 tackles, one interception and seven passes defensed in eight games with three starts. Florence broke his arm in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve before returning to the Lions lineup in Week 11.
Prior to his one-year stint in Detroit, Florence played three years with the Buffalo Bills and recorded seven interceptions in 45 starts with the franchise.
Florence played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 after spending his first five seasons with the san Diego Chargers, who drafted him from Tuskegee in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
“He is a very instinctive and smart player. There isn’t much he hasn’t seen,” general manager Dave Gettleman said after the team signed him in March. “He still has his speed, he’s still explosive. He’s a heavy-hitter when he tackles and he has the skills we were looking for. He’s a mature guy and he’s going to help our young defensive backs learn.”