5 best individual performances in Carolina Panthers history

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton
(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Julius Peppers /

Julius Peppers – Former Carolina Panthers DE

  • September 15, 2002 vs. Detroit Lions

The Carolina Panthers hit an absolute home run by drafting North Carolina’s Julius Peppers second overall in the 2002 NFL draft. The 6-foot-7, 295-pound defensive end more than lived up to the draft hype and he did so remarkably quickly.

In only his second NFL game, Peppers put the league on notice by netting three sacks, three tackles for loss, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble in a blowout win against the Detroit Lions. Something that would set the benchmark for what is surely going to end up being a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame career.

Those types of performances would become routine throughout his 17-year career.

Just four weeks later, “Pepp” put up another three-sack performance at the Dallas Cowboys, tying the rookie record for three-sack games in a season with Leslie O’Neal of the Chargers, who accomplished the same feat way back in 1986.

Despite missing the final four games of his rookie season, Peppers would go on to finish the season with 35 tackles, 12 sacks, five forced fumbles, five passes defended, and one interception en route to the AP Defensive Rookie of The Year trophy.

There is absolutely no disputing the fact Peppers is one of Carolina’s greatest-ever players. He did spend a considerable period away from the team, but coming back to end his career in Carolina was fitting and he will always be held in high regard with those who saw him play.