Perhaps since he also played using behind and defensive behind during Washington, Carolina Panthers rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson has infrequently been called a refinement player.
Phooey on that, Thompson replies.
“I competence not be a biggest linebacker, though we can container a punch,” Thompson pronounced following Friday’s 17-16 preseason detriment to a New England Patriots. “I’m not going down easily.”
Thompson done only dual tackles Friday though they were both a teeth-rattling arrange that squeeze fans’ attention. Each time Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw brief passes and Thompson stepped adult to impact Dion Lewis and Jonathan Krause to a ground.
The Panthers used their first-round pick, 25th overall, to name Thompson final spring, selecting to enlarge a strength, rather than residence an area of need. The Panthers’ best section is substantially linebacker, built around stars Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
Thompson isn’t quite large for a position during 6-foot and 230 pounds. But he represents a trend in a NFL toward faster, some-more jaunty linebackers.
Despite his blank partial of a preseason with a hamstring damage – he sat out a initial muster opposite a Buffalo Bills – a Panthers are fast-tracking Thompson’s development. He started exhibitions opposite a Miami Dolphins and a Patriots, personification forward of maestro A.J. Klein.
Klein’s purpose this deteriorate will expected be subbing in during all 3 linebacker positions.
The third muster in an NFL preseason is typically many like a regular-season game. Thompson beheld a difference.
“Everything out there was going fast. we could tell that additional small nick was incited adult on a Patriots’ side and a side,” Thompson said. “You’ve got to be like them and play fast.
“I’ve gotten a lot of assistance from a guys – Luke, A.J., Thomas Davis. They’re all ancillary me, creation certain I’m in a playbook and personification fast.”
Klein pronounced one of a advantages of a Panthers’ linebacker section is they highlight communication. Thompson has helped himself by being noisy adequate to find advice, rather than only keep a low form as a rookie.
“Shaq is a good learner. He’s come adult to speed unequivocally quickly. It shows how high his football IQ is,” Klein said.
“The biggest thing is his seeking questions. He’s not fearful to ask questions and that’s a unequivocally good thing. If we don’t ask those questions we never get a answers that we want.”
Klein is tender though not astounded how fast Thompson is carrying an impact as a rookie.
“His versatility,” Klein pronounced of Thompson’s best attribute. “He’s unequivocally jaunty so he can play on a outside, though also on a inside. He’s good in pass-coverage and he’s a quick-twitch player. He brings a lot of dynamics to this football team.
“I feel like he’s flourishing each singular day. He has a expostulate to wish to be great. He’s unequivocally taken off already.”
Thompson was speedy by how good a invulnerability did early in Friday’s diversion opposite star quarterback Tom Brady. New England’s initial dual security were 3-and-outs, followed by dual interceptions of Brady passes.
“We were interlude them. We done a quarterback uncomfortable,” Thompson said. “Overall, I’d contend we did great.
“Everything is starting to come simply now. I’ve got dual games underneath my belt. I’m removing improved and I’m gripping my nose in my playbook.”
And he’s changing perceptions.
“People contend we was a safety. we never unequivocally played safety,” Thompson said. “My initial dual years (at Washington) we was an outward linebacker. we like a contact, we like a physicality of a game.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell