3 pleasant surprises from the Carolina Panthers 2023 season

It wasn't all bad for the Carolina Panthers in 2023.
Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Xavier Woods' influence

Considering Xavier Woods was all but written off just a few years ago when the Dallas Cowboys cut him loose, the career resurgence has been remarkable. The standout safety remains a model of consistency. This season, he was better than ever.

Although Woods missed three games due to injury, he was nothing short of sensational when on the field. His ability to get everyone on the same page on the backend was an example of supreme vision and communication. He made tackles look effortless at times. The defensive back was rarely out of position. The one-time Louisiana Tech star made a difference in the passing game and closer to the line of scrimmage on running downs.

Woods conceded an impressive 65.4 passer rating when targeted this season. This is a testament to his discipline and anticipation when routes were developing in front of him. His outstanding 80.3 grade from Pro Football Focus is another indication of his well-rounded contribution throughout the campaign.

This is all positive where Woods is concerned. A new regime might be coming into the fold, but there is no denying the former sixth-round pick's importance to the team next season, which is also a contract year for the player.

If Woods keeps up this performance level next season, a contract extension won't be too far behind.