How much will the Carolina Panthers miss Shaq Thompson after Week 2 injury?

The team captain is officially done for the season.

Shaq Thompson
Shaq Thompson / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

How much will the Carolina Panthers miss veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson after he went to season-ending injured/reserve with a broken fibula?

Losing against the New Orleans Saints and moving to 0-2 on the season was bad enough, but the Carolina Panthers were dealt another horrific blow on the injury front when Shaq Thompson went down. Something that will keep the veteran linebacker out for the entire 2023 campaign.

Thompson's leg was crushed by offensive tackle Trevor Penning in a freak incident that left the former first-round selection with a broken fibula. This is the third Panthers starter to miss extended time in two weeks, with offensive lineman Brady Christensen and stud cornerback Jaycee Horn also on the shelf for prolonged periods.

Carolina Panthers will miss Shaq Thompson's leadership

This is probably the last thing Frank Reich needs after such a sluggish opening to the campaign. The head coach was clearly disappointed based on his comments via the team's website, but the figurehead is also eager for those healthy to adopt a next-man-up mentality.

"It's hard to put into words; we talk about a brotherhood, he's just a close brother. This is a warrior. This is a guy who knows how to practice. He knows how to play. He's a team-first player. I was texting him last night, and he's already talking about trying to figure out ways he's going to get back. This is before he has all the news on all the stuff, but you know, trying to figure out a way he's going to help the team. These injuries hurt. But as I said yesterday and will continue to say, the train's got to keep going on. And you can love your brother and feel bad for your brother, and at the same time understand we've got to have the next-man-up mentality."

Frank Reich via

The Washington product is one of Carolina's longest-serving players and the unrivaled alpha leader within the locker room. Thompson's production is steady enough without being the most flashy, but he'll be missed most from a communication standpoint pre-snap and in terms of being a motivational presence.

There was a lot to like about Kamu Grugier-Hill's production when Thompson went out of the lineup. He seems to be putting the momentum generated from an outstanding camp to good use, which is likely to see him start for the remainder of 2023 barring any drastic drop-off.

However, the main man is Frankie Luvu. He was an absolute revelation against the Saints, turning in a performance of the highest quality and providing the assurance desperately needed without Thompson.

Luvu has already proven capable of keeping this sort of form up for an entire campaign. And the player should be highly motivated to increase his influence with a potentially lucrative contract extension on the horizon.

Once Thompson recovers from his surgery, he can hopefully be around the team and remain an important part of the Panthers' preparations from week to week. But in terms of influence on the field, there might be a little more speed with Grugier-Hll taking over his reps.

Not being able to help on the field will hurt Thompson more than anybody. But considering how revered he is within the locker room, it's vital for Reich and his staff to keep him around throughout his rehabilitation.

This does nothing to lessen concerns about depth at the defensive second level. The Panthers have enough spare cash for another addition if the right opportunity comes along and if all else fails, calling up Deion Jones from the practice squad isn't a bad consolation prize to fall back on.