5 Carolina Panthers players who cannot afford to regress in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
1 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Zane Gonzalez /

Which Carolina Panthers players cannot afford to regress during a crossroads campaign for the organization in 2022? 

The Carolina Panthers are moving forward with head coach Matt Rhule and a roster that has plenty going for it providing the right improvements are made this offseason. Three straight five-win seasons have the team’s fanbase craving success, but most would probably settle for gradual progression after so much underachievement.

This seems to be an attainable aim for the Panthers in 2022. Things will not be easy on a tough-looking schedule, but if Carolina can make the most out of some early home games, it should be a solid foundation from which to build.

Rhule must make adjustments to his own way of thinking, young players have to step up and contribute more, and established members of the locker room must take on the leadership mantle left by the likes of Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Greg Olsen.

With this in mind, here are five Panthers players who cannot afford to regress in 2022.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Zane Gonzalez /

87. . K. Carolina Panthers. ZANE GONZALEZ. 1. player

Zane Gonzalez – Carolina Panthers K

It was refreshing to see a kicker doing his job for the Carolina Panthers after so much misery since Graham Gano departed the scene. Zane Gonzalez was nothing short of a revelation before his season was cut short through injury, but his efforts were acknowledged in the form of a new deal to keep the veteran around.

Gonzalez – a two-time NFC Special Teams Player of the Week in 2021 – secured a 90.9 percent field goal success rate last time around. But the life of an NFL kicker is extremely volatile and the former seventh-round pick will need to keep up this outstanding consistency next season.

There’s nothing to suggest Gonzalez isn’t more than capable. Especially considering how well he performed at a time of real need last time around.