5 bold predictions for the Carolina Panthers at Falcons in Week 8

Dean Jones
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Stephon Gilmore
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Stephon Gilmore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith /

Shi Smith scores his first Carolina Panthers TD

It appears as if Terrace Marshall Jr.’s status for Sunday’s game is up in the air as the rookie second-round pick recovers from a concussion. This could mean extended reps once again for Shi Smith, who might benefit more than most from the fast-track surface at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 8.

Smith generated just three touches at the New York Giants. He failed to bring in his two targets and the only run design called for the sixth-round selection brought negative yardage.

The Carolina Panthers are struggling for consistency at the wide receiver position outside of D.J. Moore in 2021. Drops are becoming a big problem – especially for Robby Anderson – so taking a risk and giving Smith some real opportunities wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world at this stage.

And who knows, maybe the South Carolina product can come up with some plays that inspire others around him.

Much will depend on quarterback Sam Darnold and his efficiency under center. Something that’s becoming an increasing concern since Christian McCaffrey was forced to the sidelines.

Providing Darnold and the coaching staff have enough confidence in Smith against a suspect Falcons secondary, a first NFL touchdown for the player might not be out of the question.