Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers OLB
This is the time to shine for outside linebacker Shaq Thompson and the Carolina Panthers need a vintage performance or the Arizona Cardinals might just run all over them.
One thing that has long been a staple at the college level but never really made an effective transition into the NFL is the read option. This is something Arizona loves to implement and is quite good at.
Rolling out Kyler Murray along with running back James Conner and letting the quarterback decide what to do with the ball. Given both players’ elusiveness, it has been giving opposing defenses fits.
This is where Thompson has to step up.
The natural enemy of this type of scheme is a solid linebacker who can read the signal-caller and blow up the play before it starts. That is something the former Washington standout has shown the ability to do in the past and will have to again on Sunday.
If the Panthers can effectively stop the option not only are they taking away a large part of the Cardinals’ gameplan, but it also makes it that much more one-dimensional from an offensive perspective. Leaving players like Brian Burns free to pin their ears back and worry about rushing.
This is one of the keys to the game on Sunday. Thompson has to be feeling the pressure watching film of how much the Cardinals like to run.