4 Panthers players that must impose themselves after 2022 bye week

(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
1 of 4

Which Carolina Panthers players must get more involved as the team gets set to make a welcome return from their 2022 bye week?

At least on the face of things, the Carolina Panthers have a good opportunity to finish their 2022 campaign on a positive note. Momentum is slowly building under interim head coach Steve Wilks, who deserves praise for making the most out of a thankless challenge after he was chosen as the man to replace Matt Rhule short term.

The Panthers are sitting at 4-8 with slim hopes of winning the NFC South. Although some late heroics from Tom Brady versus the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football threw a significant spanner in the works.

With that being said, Carolina has some favorable matchups down the stretch. They are also making Bank of America Stadium a fortress once again under Wilks, who is restoring a sense of belonging across the franchise in pursuit of getting a bigger commitment from team owner David Tepper.

The players are also fighting hard for their own futures and for Wilks. Here are four individuals that must impose themselves over Carolina’s remaining 2022 engagements.

Player No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brandon Smith /

Brandon Smith – Carolina Panthers LB

The increasing reps for rookie Brandon Smith over the last fortnight is a step in the right direction. His physicality and athleticism could see the linebacker form a key part of the rotation long-term and if he stands out in the coming weeks, a starting spot in 2023 is not completely out of the question.

Smith has a chance with Damien Wilson seemingly on the outside looking in after an indifferent campaign. It’s also worth remembering that Steve Wilks has no favorites and will allocate reps based on form, which couldn’t be said of the previous Carolina Panthers regime.