Panthers: 3 ways Shaq Thompson can become the defensive leader

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /

Here are three ways that linebacker Shaq Thompson can emerge as the new leader of the Carolina Panthers defense in 2020.

The Carolina Panthers lost the services of some prominent locker room leaders this offseason. They made a concerted effort to go younger. And while this might not come with instant success. It does put them in a better position to possibly become a contender in the future.

This is particularly evident on the defensive side of the ball. The likes of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Mario Addison all opted to take their chances elsewhere. And the Panthers were dealt a significant blow when perennial All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly opted to retire in order to preserve his long-term health after eight prolific seasons.

Others will now be tasked with stepping up and filling the void. This is a young group that is bound to go through their fair share of growing pains. And things will not be easy against some outstanding offenses on the schedule.

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the Panthers’ week one opener, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 54. Shaq Thompson is one of those who has more pressure on their shoulders than most. And now is the time for the linebacker to deliver on his enormous promise.

The former first-round pick has enjoyed a successful career to date. But more will be needed next time around. There is every chance Thompson can take his game to new heights. And he could even emerge as the new leader of Carolina’s defense in 2020.

Whether he is up to this sort of challenge remains to be seen, but the signs are encouraging. Here are three things that Thompson needs to do in order to propel himself to a leadership position.