4 ways Carolina Panthers defense can make major progress in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson and Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson and Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Damien Wilson /

Carolina Panthers must figure things out at middle linebacker

Not having the benefit of one of the greatest-ever occupying the middle linebacker position has stung the Carolina Panthers over the last two seasons. Luke Kuechly’s presence remains sorely missed and those in power are now on their third new starter in as many years since the perennial All-Pro decided to hang up his cleats to preserve his long-term health.

The Panthers acquired Damien Wilson in free agency in the hope he can provide the consistency needed to compliment others around him. However, a concerning offseason arrest is now clouding the Super Bowl winner, which is a situation Carolina is monitoring closely ahead of a formal outcome.

If Wilson either fluffs his lines or is released, then Cory Littleton could fill in. The former Pro Bowler is fantastic in coverage and although there are some liabilities against the run, he could become a useful weapon on the rotation moving forward.

Expecting Brandon Smith to become an immediate contributor is unrealistic. The fourth-round selection has all the athletic attributes in the world but will need some considerable refinement before there is any confidence in his abilities from a starting spot.

This could be a major weak link if the Panthers cannot find the right solution. Something that should be among their top priorities in training camp.

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