5 under-the-radar Panthers players who must step up at the Falcons

Dean Jones
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Keith Taylor Jr.
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Keith Taylor Jr. /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith /

Shi Smith – Carolina Panthers WR

The Carolina Panthers finally got Shi Smith into the rotation over the last two weeks. But considering their lack of options and struggles with their wide receiver group, it was a surprise to see the sixth-round pick used so sparingly.

Smith didn’t bring in any of his two receptions at the New York Giants and lost yardage on his only running play of the afternoon. The South Carolina product was always going to be a work in progress, even though it was bemusing to see such a lack of activity with Terrace Marshall Jr. out with a concussion.

Whether Marshall comes back this weekend or not remains to be seen. But considering the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a fast-track in favor of the Atlanta Falcons, it might be worth putting plenty on Smith’s plate and seeing how he gets on.

Robby Anderson is in his own head and dropping the football far too much. D.J. Moore is getting double-teamed on almost every play without Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, so the onus is on Smith and others to take the pressure off.

Simply put, Sam Darnold needs all the help he can get. The coaching staff needs to open things up and get creative at some stage, so Smith could be one of the main beneficiaries.