4 most important Panthers players vs. Cardinals in Week 4

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Tahir Whitehead /

Tahir Whitehead – Carolina Panthers LB

Tahir Whitehead‘s start to life with the Carolina Panthers has been difficult, to put it mildly. Filling the role vacated by retired linebacker Luke Kuechly was never going to be easy, but it is hard to argue that the player has yet to meet expectations after signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal in free agency.

Whitehead’s lack of presence in run support has been a real disappointment. He has to get better angles in pursuit of the point of attack and his lack of influence in coverage has been there for all to see throughout his career.

It already looks like a slim possibility that Whitehead’s time with the Panthers will be anything more than a one-year arrangement. Carolina needed a veteran to plug into the role in Kuechly’s absence, but it would be a huge surprise if the organization didn’t look for the All-Pro’s long-term successor next spring wither in free agency of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The player has plenty of time to turn things around, which might just begin against the Cardinals. Whitehead has the unenviable task of trying to limit Kyler Murray and Kenyan Drake from gaining notable yards on the ground once they get to the second level, which almost seems inevitable given their exceptional elusiveness.

Whitehead will also need to communicate well with his defensive front, which is set to be equally as important. Hopefully, he can take his place in the lineup after the player became a late addition to the injury report on Saturday.