5 key observations from Carolina Panthers 2022 preseason finale vs. Bills

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith /

Carolina Panthers WR Shi Smith has a big role to play

The meteoric rise of Shi Smith this offseason has been a pleasant surprise. Things looked bleak for the wide receiver once upon a time this spring, but the player deserves tremendous credit for fighting through adversity and into the team’s plans next season.

Smith rounded off an exceptional preparation period with starting responsibilities against the Buffalo Bills. An opportunity that the former sixth-round selection was keen not to waste.

His growing chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield was on full display early on. Smith caught a useful ball to move the chains and his other reception was a long touchdown grab to put the Carolina Panthers up 14-0 early in the second quarter.

This is yet another step in the right direction for Smith, who has emerged from a roster bubble candidate to a potential No. 3 option in no time at all. A testament to how hard the receiver has worked on his craft and overall approach this offseason.

It’s taken a period of self-reflection from the wideout and a significant amount of heart to reach this point. Former Panthers legend Steve Smith also lent his support to get the South Carolina product trending in the right direction.

Producing the goods in a competitive setting during the regular season is the next step for Smith. However, his prospects look far better now than at any stage in 2021.