4 intriguing developments from Carolina Panthers 2024 OTAs

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Dave Canales
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Carolina Panthers impressed with Chau Smith-Wade

The Carolina Panthers are light on decent cornerback options heading into the season. Those in power seem confident in their young guys making the step into increased responsibilities. If this is a direction those in power take, it's a tremendous risk.

If Jaycee Horn suffers more complications on the health front, it'll go from risk to catastrophe in the blink of an eye. There's still time for Dan Morgan to acquire another capable coverage presence, but the impression made by an unheralded rookie during early workouts is something that deserves recognition.

Chau Smith-Wade was the No. 157 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. Many analysts thought he was too undersized to carve out a significant role for himself despite some intriguing athletic traits. However, head coach Dave Canales likes what he sees from the former Washington State star so far based on comments via USA Today Sports.

"He’s a worker. The guys that we drafted, these guys are hard workers and tough football players. And that’s what we tried to do—is profile those type of guys that fit what we’re doing. He fits right in with the group. He’s active, he’s always workin’ on stuff, JUGS after practice and I just love his focus. He’s got a great smile, but then you see, like, he’s just locked in. And he’s really interested in what’s happening everywhere."

Dave Canales via USA Today Sports

This is a good start from Wade-Smith. He's displaying the work ethic and desire to be better that is sure to go down well with coaches. It's also worth remembering that it's early days and things are still in their bedding-in period.

Wade-Smith is seen more as a development project rather than someone who can come in and help immediately. At the same time, there is an opportunity to feature heavily if the Panthers don't scour the waiver wire for additional reinforcements.

At the very least, watching his growth as the summer progresses would be wise.