Carolina Panthers: Three players who will be stars in the NFL
By Alex Duran
These three Panthers have shots at solid careers.
The preseason is officially over and the Panthers ended it with a hard-fought win. Now there are some difficult decisions to be made as the Panthers prepare for week one against the Rams. Tonight was the last chance some people had to suit up as a Panther. For some this was their last NFL game ever. The Panthers can’t keep everyone so some people will be jobless for a while. However, there are a few people who will find a spot somewhere to make an impact in this league.
The second year play-making running back who’s warranted more attention than he’s received. In the first three preseason games he amassed forty-four rushing yards on nine carries. Additionally he stacked ninety-three more yards in receiving after catching ten passes on eleven targets. In the final preseason game Bonnafon stamped his performance with three more receptions for forty-six yards before heading out early. The early exit might be a sign that the Panthers want to keep him healthy like they did for Newton. Scarlett and Holyfield have been the talk of the town since they arrived. Meanwhile Bonnafon has been carrying himself like an established pass-catching running back. The Panthers will be stringent about their running back standards, and understandably so because the backup will need to stand in for McCaffrey. It’s safe to assume Bonnafon secured a spot behind McCaffrey this season, but if he didn’t he’ll definitely shine somewhere an RB is needed.
An undrafted linebacker whose name starts with a “K” and plays sideline to sideline? The Panthers couldn’t have been any luckier. Standing as the fourth or fifth best linebacker on the depth chart his chances to remain through cuts are propitious. Andre Smith put up a good fight for his place in the rotation but Kunaszyk made one of the best plays of the preseason. The defense has notoriously had issues playing with passion in the fourth quarter or any time the starters step off the field. Kunaszyk showed that he can be the guy to deliver a grand finale play when he steps in. He could help the Panthers end close games in their favor and put a stop to the Cardiac Cats. If not, he might end up as a contributor to the Cardiac Cats.
The Panthers put themselves in a difficult situation as Slye only missed one shot this preseason. Graham’s injury held him out of the preseason so the Panthers decided to place him on IR. This is an interesting move since Graham signed a four-year contract before last season and he has experience playing under pressure.
Two years ago the Panthers let go of stalwart Harrison Butker, much to their dismay as he is now tenured with the Chiefs. As the Panthers seek to get younger and faster they cannot afford to miss out on someone who could be the long term answer at kicker. Considering the history of kickers in the NFL this decision alone could mean the difference between winning and losing seasons, and possibly postseason progression.