Carolina Panthers: Is Corn Elder finally ready to make an impact?

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Corn Elder
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Corn Elder /

Is cornerback Corn Elder finally ready to make a bigger impression with the Carolina Panthers in 2020?

We are now just 29 days away from the Carolina Panthers returning to action. Their Week 1 encounter against the Las Vegas Raiders has been a long time coming. And it appears that the NFL will at least start the season on time.

Just what we can expect from the Carolina Panthers in 2020 is up for debate. New head coach Matt Rhule wasted no time in getting the sort of players he wanted into the organization. And this has resulted in substantial changes across the board in a bid to turn around their fortunes.

This has left expectations relatively low despite some outstanding offensive weapons at their disposal. While it is clear this unit has the scope to be one of the NFL’s best. Things look far more concerning for Carolina on the defensive side of the ball.

Continuing our countdown series ahead of the new season, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 29. Corn Elder returned to the Panthers last season after a short spell with the New York Giants. And the upcoming campaign is a make or break one for the cornerback.

What chance does Corn Elder have with the Carolina Panthers in 2020?

There was plenty to like about Elder when Carolina selected him in the fifth round back in 2017. He enjoyed a standout career at Miami that resulted in 158 combined tackles, 117 solo tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three interceptions, and 27 pass deflections. So there were high hopes this sort of production could make a transition to the next level.

Elder found out quickly just how big the step-up in class to the NFL is. He failed to make any sort of impression over his first two seasons in Carolina. And the corner did not exactly catch the eye on 6.1 percent of the Panthers’ defensive snaps as a sophomore in 2018.

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The decision-makers opted to cut their losses with Elder during the 2019 offseason. He got another chance quickly with the New York Giants. But the player was only able to earn selection to their practice squad.

This was undoubtedly frustrating for Elder. But the Panthers decided to pick him up during Week 11 on a two-year, $1.23 million deal. And he is on a clean slate with the current coaching staff ahead of a crucial few weeks for the player at training camp.

There does appear to be an opening for any cornerback that makes an impression. The Panthers are going into the campaign with Donte Jackson, Eli Apple, and fourth-rounder Troy Pride Jr. as their expected starters. And this leaves Elder fighting it out with Cole Luke, Natrell Jamerson, and undrafted free-agent Myles Hartsfield for other positions on the depth chart.

Carolina also has the option of bringing in another veteran with their remaining salary cap space. Elder does appear up against it in his pursuit of winning a spot on the 53-man roster. But this is an experience he has dealt with plenty throughout his fledgling career so far.

He does have some nice skills to call upon. But given how little time he has seen the field. It is hard to gauge just what his chances are of forging a successful career in the NFL.

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The Panthers are giving him one more opportunity to stake a claim at camp. And this is something that Elder cannot let pass him by.