5 Carolina Panthers under the most scrutiny at 2021 training camp

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /
4 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

It’s fair to say Shaq Thompson had some lofty goals heading into training camp last year. Of course, this was the first without the presence of Luke Kuechly on the roster after his shock retirement.

Thompson was focal in his desire to become a defensive lynchpin and prove he could lead a talented young group going through a period of transition. Both scenarios didn’t really come to fruition.

There was nothing wrong with the former first-round pick’s production, or at least some of it. Thompson has been an above-average contributor since entering the league, but the simple fact is the Carolina Panthers needed him to be so much more than that.

If anything, Thompson proved beyond all doubt he needs someone like Kuechly alongside him on the interior to maximize his production.

Carolina has hopefully got something better in Denzel Perryman, who joined in free agency from the Los Angeles Chargers. His aggressive nature and fearless approach will be e tremendous asset, although staying injury-free is vital for the Miami product.

Thompson will be watched carefully at camp and the preseason. Another campaign of relative mediocrity could see his time with the franchise cut short in 2022 at a cap saving of more than $12 million.