4 Panthers players that must thrive under extreme pressure in Week 17

(Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) Sam Darnold and Bradley Bozeman
(Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) Sam Darnold and Bradley Bozeman /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) C.J. Henderson /

C.J. Henderson – Carolina Panthers CB

It would be a bombshell of epic proportions if Jaycee Horn took the field in Week 17. His emergence into one of the league’s most prolific shutdown cornerbacks took a worrying turn with a broken wrist that requires surgery, which is a body blow to the Carolina Panthers and their chances of making the postseason in 2022.

The Panthers brought in veteran Josh Norman in the immediate aftermath of Horn’s injury. Just how much the former All-Pro can contribute is another matter, but it’s provided a lift that was sorely needed both within the locker room and across the fanbase.

Although Norman will feature, expecting him to accumulate starting reps after missing the entire season to date is unrealistic. Keith Taylor Jr. will get an increased role, but there is huge pressure on C.J. Henderson to become a legitimate No. 1 cover cornerback this weekend.

Henderson’s responded well to Steve Wilks’ challenge a few weeks ago. Something that should stand him in good stead as the 2020 first-round selection looks to formally announce himself in the face of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Horn’s absence won’t go unnoticed by Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner is sure to test both Henderson and Taylor considerably, exploiting any weakness that might emerge from either defensive back.

This could go horribly wrong, obviously. But Henderson will never get a better chance to make a statement with everything on the line.