Which Carolina Panthers players find themselves firmly on the hot seat heading into the team's training camp before the 2023 campaign?
The wait is almost over. Veterans are currently making their way down to Wofford College in Spartanburg for training camp, which reunites established figures with the rookies who've been in the facility since Friday.
This is the most important phase of preparations by a considerable margin. There's an enormous sense of positivity surrounding the Panthers after an outstanding offseason, so building further momentum in the weeks ahead and when preseason games arrive will stand Frank Reich's men in tremendous stead.
Carolina is quietly fancied to become one of the league's surprise packages next season. But for many on the roster, the next few weeks will make or break their short and potentially long-term futures with the franchise.
With this in mind, here are four Panthers players who find themselves on the hot seat heading into camp.
Brandon Smith - Carolina Panthers LB
Frank Reich and his staff have no emotional attachment whatsoever to any player drafted by the Carolina Panthers under their previous regime. Couple this with a shift in schemes on both sides of the football, it's not hard to see why some should be worrying about their respective futures.
Despite flashing when called upon as a rookie, Brandon Smith has it all to do at camp. The former fourth-round selection out of Penn State boasts every athletic intangible needed to thrive, but it doesn't appear as if defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is all that keen on the player's credentials based on his status over early workouts.
Smith's impact on special teams might ensure he gets a roster spot. But that is far from guaranteed unless the linebacker displays the right attitude and produces on the practice field at camp.