4 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat entering Week 9 vs. Colts

These individuals must step up in Week 9...

Ikem Ekwonu
Ikem Ekwonu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Ihmir Smith-Marsette - Carolina Panthers KR

When the Carolina Panthers traded for wide receiver/kick returner Ihmir Smith-Marsette before he was going to be released by the Kansas City Chiefs, many thought this would provide the spark needed in the return game that was desperately lacking. Unfortunately for the player and the organization, it hasn't gone according to plan.

Smith-Marsette is almost too eager to impress at times. He takes out punts that should be fairly caught and hasn't done a good enough job of identifying holes and exploding through them to further complicate matters.

This could be the last chance saloon for Smith-Marsette now that Raheem Blackshear is back involved. Any further failures could see him deactivated from game days, especially considering he's barely featured in the passing attack despite some bold claims upon his arrival.

There's a chance Smith-Marsette doesn't even get another chance to show what he's capable of. Blackshear caught the eye on a couple of kick returns against the Houston Texans, so those in power might decide to take the former fifth-round selection from Iowa completely out of the firing line.

It's something worth monitoring, at the very least. But Smith-Marsette should be under no illusions about the need to perform with more efficiency in Week 9 and beyond.