5 players the Carolina Panthers cannot lose to injury in 2021

Dean Jones
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Danielle Parhizkaran/The Record via IMAGN Content Services) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

Everything rests on Sam Darnold‘s shoulders in 2021.

The Carolina Panthers have placed a significant amount of faith in the quarterback after acquiring him via trade from the New York Jets, which could be the start of a road to redemption for the former No. 3 overall selection after a torrid start to his NFL career at MetLife Stadium.

Darnold has all the talent in the world. But his decision-making is questionable and that needs to improve if he wants to make a better go of things with far more talent around him and a coaching staff that possesses complete belief he can take Carolina where they want to go.

The Panthers picked up Darnold’s fifth-year option, but if he fails to show the necessary improvements then Carolina’s decision-makers might be on the lookout for their third signal-caller in as many seasons under Matt Rhule.

Their infatuation with Deshaun Watson may have gone away for now. But that could change in an instant if his legal situation resolves and Darnold doesn’t live up to expectations.

Next. 4 best kept secrets on the Carolina Panthers roster in 2021. dark

The last thing Darnold or Carolina needs next season is for the player to get injured. Much of this will depend on how the offensive line holds out, but the USC product will be counting on his protection living up to their end of the bargain in no uncertain terms.