The Panthers were a alright team in 2013, and many small-name players contributed to that success. For Carolina to repeat their winning ways in 2014, new faces will need to step around the plate and play lights out. Listed below are the inventors that I think is going to do exactly that:
1) Kawann Short
Defensive tackle Kawann Short quietly had a good season in 2013. Selected in the 2nd round of the draft, Short arrived on the scene as a rookie and set the tone straight away for the defensive line. They were one of the best pure pass rushers on the team, they came in 2nd on the team in quarterback pressures, a statistic that is fantastic as a rookie. As a rotational player, Kawann recorded 30 tackles and one sack. Next to fellow rookie, Star Lotulelei, Short was a force to be reckoned with. As starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards enters the past year of his contract, I expected Kawann to be phased into more of a starting role within the defense. When he finally gets the snaps he deserves, Carolina’s defensive line is likely to be even more scary than it absolutely was in 2013.
2) Robert Lester
Robert Lester was an absolute surprise for myself and everyone that watched the Panthers last year. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, hoping to be at best a rotational player. Lester was on the practice squad for the initial couple games of the growing season, but was called up once Charles Godfrey became injured. In his first game in the NFL, Lester dominated. Versus the Giants, he recorded 6 tackles and was responsible for just two takeways- one fumble recovery and an interception. Lester was perhaps one of the very most dependable players for the Panthers’secondary in 2014, and was very exciting to watch. He intercepted the ball twice more over the rest of the growing season, and was a beneficial factor in run defense. Try to find Lester to prove he has got the caliber to be a starter in the NFL in 2014, and make some quarterbacks cry along the way.
3) AJ Klein
AJ Klein might have been a 5th round pick in 2013, but when he hit the field, he played like a man on a mission. The exterior linebacker gave the Panthers linebacker core excellent depth, but I usually felt he deserved a starting spot on the team. He finally got his possibility to prove himself as a starter vs. the 49ers in the standard season. With superb ball instincts and the ability to read defenses, Klein ran the defensive show that limited San Francisco to 9 points. He recorded 6 tackles in the NFC showdown, while sacking QB Colin Kaepernick for a 14 yard loss. Gettleman has mentioned just how much of a pure talent Klein turned out to be, and I expect him to begin at outside linebacker in 2014. If he does obtain the starting role, opposing offenses ought to be very afraid.