4 sneaky threats the Panthers need to worry about in Week 16

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Sims
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Sims /
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Carolina Panthers
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Da’Ron Payne /

Da’Ron Payne – DT

Da’Ron Payne might be a former No. 13 overall selection. But given the other talent on Washington’s defensive front, he definitely falls into the sneaky threat category.

There were high hopes for Payne once he got to the NFL. The defensive tackle enjoyed a phenomenal college career at Alabama and even though there were some definite growing pains as a sophomore, he seems to be bouncing back in a positive way this season.

Washington’s embarrassment of riches on their defensive line could be a matchup nightmare for the Carolina Panthers. Their interior protection has been regressing concerningly during the second half of the campaign and the team might also be without the services of Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung once again through injury.

This will be music to the ears of Payne, who has 48 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, five tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, 14 pressure, four passes defended, and an interception from a standout campaign so far.

If Payne is allowed to generate some early momentum, he is incredibly tough to stop. The defensive tackle has benefitted from some extra space to work with this season with Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan coming off the edge, which is a significant worry for the Panthers.