5 Carolina Panthers critical to potential culture shift in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

87. . OLB. Carolina Panthers. SHAQ THOMPSON. 4. player

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

One of the last remaining survivors from the Super Bowl team in 2015, the Carolina Panthers are looking to Shaq Thompson for expert production on the field and supreme leadership as they look to finally become more competitive in 2022.

The outside linebacker has taken on this mantle positively since some legendary figures departed the organization.

No longer could Thompson rely on the likes of Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen, Ryan Kalil, and Cam Newton. He had to become a role model himself.

Thompson has built a better bond with head coach Matt Rhule this offseason ahead of a potential culture shift. His presence coaching from the sidelines during the team’s mandatory minicamp is another positive element of his equation that cannot be overlooked.

Maintaining his outstanding contribution in 2021 will be another top objective for Thompson. Especially considering he is set to count more than $24 million against the salary cap on the final year of his deal next year.

Becoming a leader is a responsibility Thompson has taken head-on and extremely seriously. It might have taken some adjustment in 2020 without Kuechly by his side, but all signs point to the former first-round pick out of Washington becoming an indispensable member of the roster this time around.