5 most important Carolina Panthers players in Week 1 vs. Browns

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Phil Hoskins /

Phil Hoskins – Carolina Panthers DT

Phil Hoskins may seem like an odd pick for this as the defensive lineman is a rotational backup. However, with how run-heavy this Cleveland Browns team is, having quality backups to spell Derrick Brown might become a true game changer.

The importance of Hoskin’s role grew exponentially after the somewhat shocking release of Daviyon Nixon this week. Although the Carolina brought him back onto the practice squad once he cleared waivers.

While I spoke at length last season about Hoskins’ potential after flashing a never-ending motor and a drive that simply cannot be coached into a player, there is still room for improvement. This matchup will be a true test as to just how much growth has taken place from last season.

Even the best players cannot be on the field for every play and when Brown or Matt Ioannidis take a breather, Hoskins will have to fill that gap both figuratively and literally as Cleveland is going to be looking to exploit it.

The Browns are a team that looks to run you down and take advantage of a gassed defensive line. If Hoskins isn’t able to hold the line while the others are resting, then Brown will have to shoulder more of the load and even the talented starter will get tired with that many blows coming his way.