5 big Carolina Panthers storylines to watch during 2021 season

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Can the defense be one of the league’s elite?

With so many questions on the offensive side of the ball, the defense is actually in a pretty good spot to have a breakout year if everything goes to plan.

Defensive end Brian Burns is poised to have a boom of a season, rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn has high expectations, Donte Jackson is in a contract year, and safety Jeremy Chinn is coming off a stellar rookie season and will now be playing in his more natural position.

The additions of defensive end Haasan Reddick and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones will only help boost the defense even more.

Oh, and you can’t forget about defensive tackle Derrick Brown who should only improve following his rookie year.

Last season, Carolina’s defense improved each and every week, and they led the league in tackles made by rookies with 287.

Horn should be one of the final pieces of a secondary that has struggled the past two years and once veteran AJ Bouye returns in Week 3, the unit can be scary if Jackson puts his injury history behind him.

The defensive line consisting of Burns, Reddick, Jones and Brown has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best, and Jermaine Carter looks like he can be the guy to replace Luke Kuechly in the linebackers room.

If there’s one thing Panthers fans should feel confident about, it’s the defense.