Shaq Thompson earns All-Preseason Team honors from PFF

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /

Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson earns All-Preseason recognition from PFF…

Shaq Thompson has quietly improved his play since being selected by the Carolina Panthers in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Expected to be groomed as a replacement for long-time linebacker Thomas Davis, Thompson and Carolina will get a preview of life without the Panthers captain over the first four games this year.

Davis, penalized for a failed drug test this offeseason, is sidelined and can have no interaction with the team while serving his suspension. The Panthers legendary linebacker can’t even attend games by purchasing a ticket as any other fan would.

In his place, Thompson is expected to pick up much of the slack and was recently recognized by Pro Football Focus (PFF) for his preseason play. While starters typically have limited opportunities over the first four exhibition games, he managed to impress earning an 89.8 grade and one of only two linebacker positions on the All-Preseason Team.

PFF offered the following comments in regards to Thompson and his selection.

"Thompson was targeted five times in the preseason, giving up just 19 yards on four receptions and coming away with an interception. He finished the preseason with five tackles resulting in a defensive stop, and no missed tackles."

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One of the key statistics for Thompson is having no missed tackles. For a unit that prides itself on getting to the ball carrier and bringing them down, it seems he’s fitting right in with both Luke Kuechly and Davis.

How new defensive coordinator Eric Washington elects to use Thompson will be something to keep an eye on as the season transpires. Under Steve Wilks, now the coach for Arizona, the Panthers third linebacker was asked to play a ‘Buffalo’ nickel type role – at times covering wide receivers in space as opposed to a traditional scheme for the outside linebacker position.

Expectations are that Thompson is poised for a big season, especially with Davis absent, but the Panthers linebacker has been preparing for this opportunity since his arrival. Alongside Kuechly and with quality players behind them, the linebacker unit remains a strong suit for Carolina.

See Thompson in action when the Panthers open against the Dallas Cowboys on September 9 at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25pm ET.

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