4 Panthers under threat by Eli Apple and Keith Kirkwood’s return

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Rasul Douglas
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Rasul Douglas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Eli Apple /

Which members of the Carolina Panthers might see their playing time under threat with the impending return of Eli Apple and Keith Kirkwood?

It won’t be much longer before the Carolina Panthers get back some much-needed depth to their roster. Eli Apple and Keith Kirkwood have been designated to come back off the injured/reserve list, which gives the duo three weeks to get themselves up to the conditioning needed to perform.

This would be a huge boost for the Carolina Panthers, who are relatively short of experience on their 53-man roster after a number of veteran departures in free agency. Apple and Kirkwood haven’t played a down yet this season, but there are high hopes regarding their ability to make an impact when they are healthy enough to do so.

Apple was brought in late in the free agency period after signing a one-year, $3 million deal following the 2020 NFL Draft. He was expected to fill the No. 2 cornerback role opposite Donte Jackson, but the former first-round pick has endured a frustrating start to what looks to be his last chance of securing a prominent starting role.

Kirkwood seems to be liked by the coaching staff. He worked with offensive coordinator Joe Brady during their time together with the New Orleans Saints and the player managed to beat out some talented wideouts to secure a roster spot despite suffering an injury early at training camp.

Here are four Panthers players who will be nervously looking over their shoulders ahead of the return of Apple and Kirkwood in the coming weeks.