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
(Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Troy Pride Jr. /

Troy Pride Jr. – Carolina Panthers CB

It was clear from the outset that Troy Pride Jr. was not ready for a starting role with the Carolina Panthers. The rookie cornerback was thrust into the lineup due to a significant lack of depth and it didn’t take long for the decision-makers to bring in additional reinforcements after a lackluster showing in Week 1.

This might be the best thing for Pride Jr. in the grand scheme of things. The former Notre Dame speedster plays at a position that is brutal for first-year prospects and taking him out of the firing line will allow the corner to develop at his own pace and contribute both in a rotational role and during special teams packages.

The imminent return of Eli Apple might further decrease his playing time, which will be another disappointment for Pride Jr. Nothing much was expected of the player coming into the season given the fact he is still a little rough around the edges. But it is far too early to be writing off his chances of forging a successful NFL career just yet.

There is definitely an accomplished player in there somewhere if Carolina’s coaching staff can refine his technique. Not having any preseason games hasn’t been ideal for any rookie this season and throwing Pride Jr. in at the deep end was a gamble that didn’t pay off.

Much will depend on how Apple performs, but his return to full health may have a detrimental effect on Pride Jr.