The Atlanta Falcons face off against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Panthers won the first game in Atlanta 19-13 on Halloween in a game dominated by linebacker Shaq Thompson and the Carolina defense.
Thompson, a first-round draft pick by the Panthers in 2015 out of Washington, was dominant in part because of his athleticism and smarts. He one of the best athletes in the country coming out of Grant High School in California.
A safety and running back as a junior, Thompson starred at quarterback as a senior. He was obviously a running threat with his gifts and experience at running back, but he had a good arm, too.
Obviously Thompson won't be playing quarterback for the Panthers this week or ... ever. But trick plays aside, it is a fact that the Panthers have struggled at quarterback all season as they get ready to face the Falcons on Sunday.
Sam Darnold was injured in the Panthers' previous meeting with Atlanta, suffering a concussion and crack of the shoulder scapula in his throwing arm.
Darnold had been struggling before his injury. His season passer rating of 71.3 put him 31st out of 33 quarterbacks who have enough pass attempts to qualify, and the Panthers have had mixed results at best since he's been out.
The Panthers brought back Cam Newton on November 11, and he got his first start on November 21 against the Washington Football Team. Newton played a dynamic role in a loss to Washington, completing 21 of 27 passes and two touchdowns in a loss.
However on November 28 against the Miami Dolphins, Newton had the worst outing of his career. Newton was 5 of 21 passing with two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 5.8.
Darnold is eligible to return from injured reserve, but there has been no indication he's ready to come back from his injury.
While Thompson won't be playing quarterback against the Falcons on Sunday, after watching his high school highlights, Panthers fans might find themselves thinking, "He couldn't do any worse.''
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