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
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

Shaq Thompson is riding on the crest of a wave having turned in his most accomplished performance of the season. The outside linebacker has been criticized heavily for his lack of production over the last fortnight, but he deserves credit for turning things round in a big way at the Chargers.

The Carolina Panthers need more of this from Thompson for the remainder of the campaign. He is one of the more experienced players on defense after so many veterans left the organization this offseason. But his level performance did not reflect his preseason ambitions regarding his desire to become Phil Snow’s defensive lynchpin.

Some questioned his ability to reach this ceiling, but Thompson answered back with a standout showing at SoFi Stadium that coincided with a much-improved performance overall from the Panthers’ defense.

The former first-round pick was a leading contributor for the first time this season, eventually finishing the game with 12 combined tackles, eight solo tackles, and two passes defended. The final stat is an eye-catching one, with Thompson’s lack of consistency in coverage there for all to see during the opening fortnight of competitive action.

Thompson needs to be at his best to counteract the threat posed by Kyler Murray and Kenyan Drake in the backfield. But he might also be tasked with covering a tight end in Dan Arnold who has superb potential.