How can the Caroina Panthers keep star cornerback Jaycee Horn healthy for a full 17-game slate during the upcoming 2023 season?
The last thing anybody associated with the Carolina Panthers needed was another injury to Jaycee Horn. There is perhaps an overreliance on the stud cornerback in 2023 unless someone else steps up, which is a huge gamble when one considers the health issues endured by the former first-round selection since entering the league.
Horn lasted just 2.5 games of his rookie season before breaking his foot. This number increased to 13 contests last season, but the one-time South Carolina star broke his ribs on the concrete-like surface at Bank of America Stadium on Christmas Eve, ruling him out of their crunch Week 17 divisional title showdown at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Donte Jackson also on the shelf, Tom Brady was always going to victimize the Panthers' secondary. Those in power did nothing to strengthen the cornerback options atop the rotation this spring, although many within the safety room have the potential to operate as nickel/dime options with a smooth transition to Ejiro Evero's system.
Carolina Panthers must keep Jaycee Horn healthy in 2023
Whether the likes of Eric Rowe, Jammie Robinson, or someone else provide surprising contributions, Caroina's hopes of consistent productivity in this critical area of play rely squarely on Horn until further notice.
Is there a chance the likes of C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. can improve with high-caliber NFL coaching? Absolutely.
However, keeping Horn fit and firing on all cylinders is the most pivotal aspect of this entire equation.
This topic was recently explored by Mike Kaye of The Charlotte Observer, who voiced his concerns via Yahoo Sports that Horn could last a full 17-game campaign. The writer acknowledged the immense gifts attached to the player, even if things appear bleak based on his current career trajectory.
"With this latest ailment, the “injury-prone” label will be hard for Horn to avoid. Although it’s a good sign that he is projected to be ready for training camp, it’s hard to feel confident that Horn will hold up throughout a 17-game season given his injury history. Horn needs to continue to grow as a player and avoid the sideline as much as possible entering Year 3 of his NFL career."- Mike Kaye via Yahoo Sports
Given the experience across Carolina's coaching staff, a plan should already be in place regarding how best to keep Horn on the gridiron in 2023. If that means keeping him out of a practice or two, limiting his reps, and monitoring what he does away from the facility from a workout perspective, so be it.
Obviously, some complications cannot be helped. Horn has gone through his fair share of rough luck, so he should be a willing, cooperative partner to the Panthers' next course of action.
In an ideal world, Henderson and Taylor could pick up the slack with minimal fuss and Jackson makes a flawless recovery from a torn Achilles. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Not yet, anyway.
The Panthers have enough disposable financial space to bring another capable body into the building before Week 1 depending on what opportunities present themselves in the weeks ahead. But again, this wouldn't prevent a heavy lean on Horn.
The stakes are incredibly high. If Horn stays on the field and shows why he's one of the best young shutdown players in the business, there's no telling what Carolina could accomplish.
If he suffers more injury problems, it's hard to justify picking up his fifth-year option this time next year.
A fine line, indeed.