6 Panthers players who need to hit the ground running at 2021 camp

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

Of all the players needing to hit the ground running at training camp, Sam Darnold is arguably at the top of the list. The Carolina Panthers are moving forward with the quarterback after acquiring him via trade from the New York Jets, which came after an exhaustive search to get a potential upgrade on Teddy Bridgewater.

The Panthers see Darnold as someone that could benefit significantly from a more progressive offense and a coaching staff that has full belief in his abilities. Something the Jets never really gave him over a dismal three years at MetLife Stadium.

Darnold has made an eye-catching transition to life in Carolina. He acclimatized himself extremely quickly and impressed the likes of Christian McCaffrey and head coach Matt Rhule with his grasp of the offense and command of the huddle.

Obviously, this needs to progress further when the pads go on at training camp. Darnold should also see some notable reps during the preseason to develop chemistry as he looks to make a statement against his former team at a packed Bank of America Stadium in Week 1.

Everything is in place for Darnold. But what comes next will ultimately come down to the player and whether he has enough in his locker to become a productive NFL signal-caller.

Carolina’s banking on Darnold’s potential rather than previous production. In truth, this predicament is hanging in the balance and is sure to shape the Panthers 2021 season whichever way it goes.