4 Panthers players who need to step up at the Chiefs in Week 9

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Pick Analysis. OLB. SHAQTHOMPSON. player. Scouting Report. CAROLINA PANTHERS. 54. 87

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

There appears to be some doubt surrounding the availability of Jeremy Chinn in Week 9. The star rookie has missed practice with a knee injury, which is a situation the Carolina Panthers should handle with extreme caution.

If the second-round pick is unable to take his place in the lineup, then the onus will be on Shaq Thompson to raise his game accordingly. The outside linebacker has been a major disappointment this season at the second level, which could put his long-term future with the franchise in doubt next spring.

This is not what was expected coming into the campaign. Thompson wanted to become the team’s leader on defense following Luke Kuechly’s retirement. But his lack of production has been there for all to see.

Chinn’s energy and athleticism will be sorely missed if he doesn’t prove his fitness in time. The first-year-pro has been nothing short of incredible, completely outplaying veterans within the linebacker corps such as Thompson and Tahir Whitehead, which has covered some of their failings.

One of the key components to stopping the Chiefs will be to contain the running back tandem of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recent signing Le’Veon Bell. Carolina’s run defense remains a problem even with Chinn on the field, so if there was ever a game for Thompson to stand up and make his presence felt, it is this one.