5 Carolina Panthers players facing an uphill battle at training camp

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Will Grier
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Will Grier /
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Carolina Panthers Roster
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Brandon Zylstra /

Brandon Zylstra – WR

Despite losing Curtis Samuel to the Washington Football Team in free agency, the Carolina Panthers roster still looks incredibly strong at the wide receiver position.

David Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Shi Smith were brought in via free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, with fringe veteran players also coming back on short-term deals in pursuit of potentially gaining a bigger role next season.

One player that fits into this category is Brandon Zylstra. The wideout has been a solid if not spectacular performer throughout his career, but the size of the task awaiting him at training camp is a steep one.

Zylstra is a smooth route runner with reliable hands. He might not have the explosiveness of others on the Panthers roster, but that doesn’t mean he cannot be effective.

The former CFL standout was targeted just four times in 2020, bringing in three receptions for 35 receiving yards. Gaining a bigger role is going to be a significant ask for Zylstra in the coming weeks, especially with other players chomping at the bit at the prospect of more involvement.

His previous experience in the scheme should help. But the same can also be said of Keith Kirkwood and undrafted free-agent Omar Bayless, who is making his anticipated return from a long-term knee injury this offseason.