Stephen Weatherly – Carolina Panthers DE
Stephen Weatherly managed to overcome some injury worries to take his place in the starting lineup for the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. The early struggles of Yetur Gross-Matos restricted the rookie to just 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, which put even more strain on the free-agent signing.
Weatherly did well on the most part despite the defensive front struggling to get pressure on Derek Carr overall. If the former Minnesota Viking can set the edge better in run support going forward, there is a lot to like about his ability to contribute.
Whether he will see a decrease in time on the field when Gross-Matos fully acclimatizes to the NFL will be entirely up to his production. He played well enough to get a 76.1 grade from Pro Football Focus on his Carolina debut and Weatherly will look to take advantage of the inexperience of Bucs’ first-round pick Tristan Wirfs at right tackle this weekend.
Wirfs was arguably the best edge protector coming out of college and fell into Tampa Bay’s lap after other teams opted to go in a different direction. The Iowa product was solid if not spectacular against a fierce Saints’ pass-rush and the lineman is going to get another stiff test against Weatherly.
Making Tom Brady think twice in the pocket is going to be crucial if the Panthers want to upset the odds and Weatherly will need to step it up accordingly.