5 key observations from practice Day 8 at Panthers training camp

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Clay Johnston /

Carolina Panthers LB Clay Johnston’s first-team reps

Another notable thing to take away from Day 8 of Carolina Panthers training camp was the introduction of Clay Johnston into the starting lineup. Denzel Perryman and Shaq Thompson weren’t able to recover from injuries quickly enough to participate fully, leaving the former seventh-round pick with a firm chance to stamp his mark in drills.

Johnston is going to be a fun player to watch in the preseason. His boundless enthusiasm for football came across in a big way with the Los Angeles Rams on HBO’s Hard Knocks last summer and although it wasn’t enough to make the team, he was part of the Panthers practice squad all of last season.

This is a solid foundation from which to build in pursuit of making the roster in 2021. Johnston is familiar with Matt Rhule from their time together in college and working with the “1s” was another big boost to his confidence ahead of warmup games.

The chances of Johnston cracking the starting lineup appear slim.

Jermaine Carter seems to be the starter at inside linebacker with Perryman also a key member of the rotation. But making the roster will be a massive achievement for the enthusiastic Johnston regardless.

It’s a small step. But in Johnston’s mind, a pretty significant one.