On the Fringes: Can Paddy Fisher make the Panthers 53-man roster?

Dean Jones
(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) Paddy Fisher
(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) Paddy Fisher /

How can undrafted free-agent linebacker Paddy Fisher make the Carolina Panthers 53-man roster in the coming weeks?

This is an important time of year for players on the fringes looking to stake a claim for a roster spot. The Carolina Panthers have plenty of competition for places with their current options, which should make for an enthralling training camp that is making a triumphant return to Wofford College in Spartanburg this year.

It’s going to be hot, physical, and intense. Something that represents a sink-or-swim scenario for many that have not yet experienced a camp in this climate with the Panthers before.

Couple this with the extra element of preseason games coming back onto the offseason schedule and it should stand Carolina in enormously good stead ahead of their Week 1 clash against the New York Jets at Bank of America Stadium.

One player that is looking to make a name for himself is Paddy Fisher. The talented linebacker failed to hear his name called during the 2021 NFL Draft despite an eye-catching college career at Northwestern, where he emerged as a physical second-level presence and a prominent leader within the locker room.

There are some obvious limitations where Fisher is concerned.

He is seen more as an old-school linebacker that has struggles coping in coverage. But the Panthers didn’t stop the run well enough last time out and this is an area where Fisher excels.

His downhill style and aggressiveness are two traits that will stand out at camp. But whether Fisher has enough in his arsenal to overcome some clear flaws in his game is another matter entirely.

Paddy Fisher has a window of opportunity with the Carolina Panthers.

Fisher racked up 401 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, two sacks, and four interceptions over 48 career games in college. His communication and ability to read opposing offenses were a notable feature of his overall production and there does appear to be a small window of opportunity awaiting the player in Carolina.

Outside of the starting trio of Denzel Perryman, Shaq Thompson, and Jermaine Carter, the lack of depth within the linebacker room is a potential worry. Especially considering how much injury troubles the free-agent signing from the Los Angeles Chargers has endured during his career.

Catching the eye during camp will be the first objective for Fisher.

Once this has been achieved, making the most of whatever reps come his way during warmup games is something else that will do his chances the world of good.

There won’t be anything in the way of pressure on Fisher to step in and make a lasting impression even if he does find himself on the roster for Carolina’s regular-season opener. Undrafted free agents rarely come in and show out early, so perhaps a more realistic goal for the player is to secure a place on the practice squad and progress from there.

The task awaiting Fisher is a steep one.

But his high character, work ethic, and ability to take on information quickly will give him every chance.

It’s clear that head coach Matt Rhule loves guys like Fisher. Players with the right attitude who give absolutely everything in pursuit of achieving their goals.

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That will only get you so far in the NFL. If Fisher wants a roster spot, then he needs to show a willingness to improve and do it extremely quickly.