4 sneaky threats the Panthers should worry about at the Falcons

(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Takkarist McKinley
(Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) Takkarist McKinley /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Hayden Hurst /

Hayden Hurst – TE

The Atlanta Falcons lost the services of Austin Hooper in free agency, which was a real blow. The prolific tight end penned a big-money deal with the Cleveland Browns that the organization couldn’t match even if they wanted to, which put the onus squarely on Hayden Hurst to step in and fill the void.

Hurst has a lot of likable traits to call upon. He is a big target who also has the ability to get open quickly.

The player was dealt from the Baltimore Ravens in an eye-catching trade earlier this offseason and already has two touchdowns to his name through four weeks. He will be looking to exploit an area that has been a weak point in coverage for the Carolina Panthers in recent games.

Although Carolina’s outside linebacker duo of Jeremy Chinn and Shaq Thompson has caught the eye throughout the campaign, the same cannot be said of Tahir Whitehead. His lack of nous in passing situations has hurt the defense on occasions and if the Falcons can get Hurst onto him as much as possible, it could be something that makes a big difference in the overall outcome.

The former first-round pick is no stranger to the Panthers having played his college ball in South Carolina. Hurst might have failed to live up to the billing of a high-end draft selection. But defensive coordinator Phil Snow should ignore the player at his peril.