5 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat in Week 9 at Bengals

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Shaq Thompson – Carolina Panthers LB

After the Carolina Panthers kept faith in Shaq Thompson at the 2022 trade deadline, a big effort is needed from the linebacker to improve production. It’s been good in parts, but Week 8 exposed the former first-round pick more often than not against the run and from a coverage standpoint.

There were times when Thompson just looked a yard or two off the pace. Perhaps this has something to do with the lingering effects of knee surgery during the offseason, but the Panthers are right to expect more from one of the team’s primary leaders.

These might be the last few games fans get to see Thompson in a Panthers uniform. He’s set to count a whopping $24.46 million in the final year of his deal, with the $13.18 million in savings by trade or release looking more enticing with every passing performance.

Thompson’s had nice moments throughout the season. But the second level remains an area of real concern and unless things progress effectively during Carolina’s remaining contests in 2022, big changes could be on the horizon depending on their head coaching move.

There’s no doubt Thompson and the defense have their work cut out in Week 9 against a Cincinnati Bengals team that has Joe Burrow at quarterback and one of the league’s most underrated running backs in Joe Mixon. How they respond will be telling.