4 most important Panthers players against the Buccaneers in Week 2

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Josh Jacobs
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Josh Jacobs /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Russell Okung /

Russell Okung – Carolina Panthers LT

Russell Okung might have been hard on himself and the offensive line for not being able to convert a crucial fourth-and-one late in the game against the Raiders. But his performance overall was outstanding and left plenty of reasons to be encouraged.

There was some uncertainty surrounding Okung heading into the 2020 season. Rumors of a possible retirement due to health concerns eventually came to nothing. But the doubts regarding the lineman’s ability to perform to the level of old was questioned.

Okung answered his critics in no uncertain terms with an exceptional display against the Raiders. He provided quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with superb blindside protection and played a leading role in the signal-caller receiving 2.3 seconds of pocket time on average.

This was a promising start from the Super Bowl winner. But he will face an incredibly tough test this weekend in the form of Shaquil Barrett. The pass-rushing sensation’s breakout 2019 campaign saw the player attain 19.5 sacks and a substantial pay rise on the franchise tag this time around.

If the Carolina Panthers want to stand any chance of victory against the Bucs, they need to put significant points on the board. It appears unlikely that the defense will be able to prevent the home team from getting their share of success. So Okung needs to perform equal to or even surpass what we saw from the Pro Bowler during an eye-catching debut.