4 big Carolina Panthers storylines to watch after the bye week

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Jermaine Carter /

Can Jermaine Carter be a long-term starter?

It does seem strange that the Carolina Panthers waited so long to give Jermaine Carter a more prominent role on defense judging by his high level of performance. The coaching staff – and head coach Matt Rhule in particular – were emotionally attached to free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead having worked closely with the player in college. But it was evident from very early on that he just didn’t have what it takes.

Replacing such a legendary figure like Luke Kuechly is an almost impossible task. However, in Carter, the Panthers have a big hitter who can get around the ball far better than Whitehead showed at any stage this season and it has also coincided with some improved production from Shaq Thompson in the process.

It’s been a tremendous start from Carter.

But it is only that.

What comes next will be equally as important if the former fifth-round pick wants to secure the job long-term.

Carter’s confidence will undoubtedly be high once the Panthers begin preparations for their Week 14 game against the Denver Broncos at Bank of America Stadium. A strong end to the campaign might see the decision-makers think twice about allocating a top-end NFL Draft pick on the position with pressing needs elsewhere.