4 most important Panthers players at the Falcons in Week 5

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Kawann Short
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Kawann Short /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

It looks to be now or never for Ian Thomas. The tight end has been a relative afterthought through four weeks of the season. But this might well be his opportunity to stand out and stake his claim for more targets with the Carolina Panthers going forward.

There was a tremendous amount of faith put in Thomas during the offseason by the front office. The Panthers decided to part ways with veteran Greg Olsen in free agency and although Carolina’s offense has put up some lofty numbers on offense, they haven’t gotten much production across the middle from their tight duo.

Given how the Falcons struggle to cover in this area, it would be a surprise if offensive coordinator Joe Brady didn’t give Thomas a chance to prove his worth, at the very least. Atlanta was smoked by Aaron Rodgers and tight end Robert Tonyan on Monday Night Football to the tune of three touchdowns. And even though it might be unrealistic to expect the same from the former Indiana standout, it would be a huge disappointment if he was a non-factor.

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Thomas must make sure he takes advantage of every target that comes his way. He has the athleticism and talent to get the job done more than he is currently doing. But time might be running out for the player in his bid to become Olsen’s long-term successor in Carolina.