3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers win vs. NY Jets in Week 1
Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB
Just an hour before kickoff, the Carolina Panthers announced that Shaq Thompson would be switching from No. 54 to No. 7, thanks to the new defensive numbers rule and quarterback Will Grier, who donned the number before, being waived last week.
The number change must have sparked something because Thompson had arguably his best game in Carolina.
Thompson picked off Zach Wilson in the second quarter for his second-career interception, and first since 2016, and finished the day with 10 total tackles, a sack, and three passes defended.]
It might not seem like much, but Thomspon was clearly inspired by the number change going back to his college days at Washington.
"“I felt like me, just putting that 7 back on. I feel that’s why the Panthers drafted me because all the plays I made in college — all the strip-sacks, picks, stuff like that. I just felt like putting it back on, brought me back to that person.”"
It seemed like Thompson was just all over the field on defense, even if it looked weird rocking a single-digit number.
As the longest-tenured member on the Panthers defense, Thompson will be needed to help anchor the position group throughout the season and Sunday’s performance was an extremely positive start to set the tempo.
Maybe it’s the number? If so, expect a big year.