5 harsh realities facing the Carolina Panthers after Week 4 defeat

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Yetur Gross-Matos /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Henderson /

Carolina Panthers trade for C.J. Henderson is yet to pay off

When the Carolina Panthers sent Dan Arnold and a third-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for C.J. Henderson and a fifth-round pick, it was billed by general manager Scott Fitterer as a move with the long-term in mind.

Henderson was a top 10 pick coming out of college but had struggled to find his feet in Jacksonville under Urban Meyer. While the cornerback took time to settle during the 2021 season, it was hoped he could take strides alongside Jaycee Horn under new defensive backs coach Steve Wilks.

The early signs were promising. Multiple media members in attendance during training camp noted that Henderson was locking up everybody and there was real optimism that the player would make improvements in 2022. However, the positive play we saw in Spartanburg has not translated to competitive action.

Henderson currently has a 54.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking him 75th out of 101 cornerbacks. What we saw on Sunday was arguably his worst performance since arriving in Carolina.

The Florida product was targeted regularly by Kyler Murray, who identified a weakness in Henderson’s game which led to the former Miami man playing just 42 percent of defensive snaps, his lowest number of the campaign.

A real knock on Henderson has been his inability to defend against the deep ball. This resulted in Xavier Woods’ interception chalked off due to pass interference in Week 1 and impeding Marquise Brown last weekend to set the Arizona Cardinals up inside the five-yard line.

It seems that whenever the ball is thrown deep, Henderson just panics. Instead of making a play on the ball and forcing the wide receiver to adjust, he reverts to infringements that have cost the Panthers.

Henderson may see his snaps reduce unless his play improves. Myles Hartsfield played a season-high 95 percent of snaps in Week 4 and performed well, so don’t be surprised to see the former Ole Miss man given a bigger role going forward.