4 Carolina Panthers on their final warning at the Texans in Week 3

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Chase Blackburn
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Chase Blackburn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Sam Greene/The Enquirer via IMAGN Content Services) Alex Erickson /

Alex Erickson – Carolina Panthers KR

This ship might already sail before the Carolina Panthers take the field at NRG Stadium if they decide to activate sixth-round pick, Shi Smith. But at least for now, Alex Erickson is tasked with providing solid field position from the return game.

Erickson did come up with a head’s up play that prevented a sure-fire turnover after a punt that hit the heel of Keith Taylor Jr. But in terms of gaining yardage, things need to be a lot better.

The former Wisconsin star has generated just 55 yards from seven punt returns over two games. Much like the kicking situation, the Panthers have managed to sweep this under the carpet thanks to their first-half dominance through two weeks, but that might not be the case for much longer when the opposition becomes tougher.

Whether the Panthers decide to go with Erickson again this week is unclear.

Smith was a healthy scratch in Week 2 after working his way back from a shoulder problem. So it remains to be seen whether Carolina activates the wide receiver with a few more days to get himself to 100 percent.

Smith gained plenty of success returning kicks at South Carolina. His strong preseason could also see him become a more viable option than Erickson in the passing game.

However, if Erickson does play at the Texans, he’ll be on an incredibly short leash.