4 underachieving Panthers players who must step up in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /
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Which underachieving Carolina Panthers players must step up and make a telling contribution during the 2022 season? 

If there was one word to describe the Carolina Panthers over the last few seasons, it would be “underachievement”. This started during the final stages of Ron Rivera’s time as head coach and continued following the appointment of Matt Rhule on a whopping seven-year, $62 million deal in 2020.

Many thought there would be a change in direction this offseason after the Panthers capitulated last time around. Instead, team owner David Tepper gave Rhule his third season in the role to prove beyond all doubt he has what it takes to lead this franchise back to prominence.

It’s not all on the former Baylor man. Many players have also not lived up to expectations, which simply has to change in the coming months to finally get Carolina trending upward.

With this in mind, here are four underachieving Panthers players who must step up in 2022.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ian Thomas /

Ian Thomas – Carolina Panthers TE

It’s now or never for Ian Thomas.

The tight end was given a new three-year deal by the Carolina Panthers this offseason despite his lack of production in the passing game once again. Thomas was given the benefit of the doubt and having Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator will help, but the organization can ill-afford this gamble failing to reap rewards next season.

Thomas is an ever-improving blocker with the physical attributes to emerge as a prominent target. But he’ll need a strong start with second-year-pro Tommy Tremble also vying for increased responsibilities.