Carolina Panthers: Examining the curious case of Ian Thomas

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Where is it all going wrong for Thomas?

Considering how important pass-catching tight ends have been for the Carolina Panthers in recent years. It is bizarre to see Ian Thomas getting little in the way of activity across the middle.

The former fourth-round pick has been the recipient of just 20 balls thrown his way during the season so far, which is only 10 fewer than he gained in 2019 as an understudy to Greg Olsen.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady used his tight ends prominently throughout a historic campaign with LSU on their way to a National Championship. So there must be something really amiss with Thomas for him not to be more involved.

The Panthers do have plenty of dynamic weapons on offense who command the lion’s share of the targets. This has obviously left Thomas on the outside looking in and the fact he has yet to reach 100 receiving yards from the 12 games he’s been available is a damning indictment of his standing within the passing attack.

Thomas has improved the blocking aspect of playing the position, which he deserves credit for. But the simple fact of the matter is he’s struggling to get open quickly and is rarely quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s first read.

It’s not hard to see why Thomas has a lowly 44.7 grade from Pro Football Focus to show for his efforts this season. And his career in Carolina might just be past the point of no return.