5 lively outsiders to make the Carolina Panthers roster in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Clay Johnston
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Clay Johnston /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Clay Johnston /

Clay Johnston – Carolina Panthers LB

Being around the Carolina Panthers last season has clearly helped Clay Johnston. The linebacker knows exactly what’s expected from Matt Rhule and his coaches after working with them at Baylor, with the player’s father also part of the staff to add further comfort following his arrival last summer after being invited onto the Los Angeles Rams practice squad.

Johnston was one of the stars from last summer’s HBO Hard Knocks thanks to his infectious enthusiasm for the game of football. It’s also worth remembering he was working his way back from a serious knee injury, which is probably stronger than ever right about now.

Making it through the first two rounds of cuts is another big boost for Johnston. Especially considering the Panthers brought in Paddy Fisher and Josh Bynes in free agency.

With Denzel Perryman now traded to the Las Vegas Raiders and Jermaine Carter named as the starting middle linebacker in 2021, it remains to be seen just who else is going through onto the roster. Johnston is versatile enough to play anywhere on the second level, although Frankie Luvu’s splash throughout camp makes him a virtual lock as a key rotational presence.

Only time will tell, obviously. But Johnston will probably have more than just being a practice squad player on his mind heading into the final week before big decisions are made.