4 players pivotal to Carolina Panthers chances in Week 3 vs. Saints

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB

While Shaq Thompson will never be the heir that the team was hoping for when the legendary duo of Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly departed, the veteran linebacker needs to step up and take the reins of leadership if this defense is going to have a glimmer of hope.

The Carolina Panthers’ defense played very well in a tough situation to start the game against the New York Giants. They were forced into instant red-zone holds on the opening two drives when it looked like the ceiling might collapse right out of the gate.

As the game went on, attrition set in and it began to show as the Giants were able to run right over Carolina’s interior en route to icing the game.

This does not entirely sit on Thompson’s shoulders. But with what seems to be yet another swing and miss at a middle linebacker with Damien Wilson struggling mightily, the former first-round selection needs to pick up the slack, because no one else can against a team that can have Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara on the field at the same time.

This goes beyond individual stats. Reading the defense and putting them in their best place to succeed is the far more important role Thompson must fill come Sunday if the Panthers want to end a disastrous run of results.