5 players the Panthers can’t risk sneaking on their practice squad in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Phil Hoskins
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Phil Hoskins /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Stantley Thomas-Oliver /

Stantley Thomas-Oliver III – Carolina Panthers CB

Much like the situation with Rodney Smith, cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III more than held his own when he was thrust into the lineup during his rookie season. The seventh-round pick in 2020 looked overawed on a few occasions – particularly against Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings – but overall his production was better than anybody anticipated.

The Carolina Panthers are hoping this can be a springboard to bigger and better things for Thomas-Oliver, who is still learning how to play the position after transferring from a wide receiver in college.

However, the competition for places has been given a substantial upgrade this spring thanks to the additions of Jaycee Horn, A.J. Bouye, Keith Taylor Jr., and Rashaan Melvin.

This has laid the gauntlet down in no uncertain terms to both Thomas-Oliver and Troy Pride Jr., who went through some serious complications throughout his first-year adjustment coming out of Notre Dame.

Just how much they bring their respective games on in the coming weeks will be crucial. Whoever wins this individual battle could beat out the other to a roster spot when it’s all said and done.

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Thomas-Oliver will be a prime candidate for the practice squad if he loses out. But the prospect of someone else snapping him before the Panthers get this opportunity is high.