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ACL Injury Costs Troy Pride a Third Season in Carolina

The Panthers parted ways with the former fourth-round pick.

In a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, then second-year cornerback Troy Pride Jr. went down with an ugly knee injury. Shortly after the game, it was diagnosed as a torn ACL which immediately put an end to his season. 

"I feel so awful for him. I feel bad even talking about it because he was doing a good job, he was playing well. As a coach it makes you sick to your stomach," head coach Matt Rhule said in the postgame press conference. "I told Troy he's been fast his whole life. So he'll come back from this injury and he'll be fast again next year and he'll continue to grow as a player. Nothing but positive things to say about him and what he's done leading up to this point. He underwent surgery in the offseason to get himself ready and worked so hard to get here. For this to happen, I hate it for him."

As a rookie, Pride played in 14 games (8 starts) and registered 42 tackles and a pair of pass breakups. Due to injuries in the back end, Pride was forced to play a little earlier than the coaching staff would have liked. As Rhule noted, Pride's speed is a big reason why they selected him in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. His coverage skills still needed some work but the speed was hard to pass on. Unfortunately, there were too many occasions where Pride was forced to be matched up on the opposing team's No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver and he didn't win very many of those matchups. 

Heading into year two, the expectation was that he would be a primary contributor on special teams and settle into a rotational role at corner. The injury not only took away his ability to help the Panthers in 2021, but in future years as well. On Monday, the team announced that Pride had been waived with a failed physical designation, clearing room for two new additions to the roster - OT Wyatt Miller and TE Jared Scott.

This move appeared to be inevitable after the Panthers drafted Kalon Barnes last month. It was going to be a steep battle for Pride to overcome and with Barnes' speed, there was no longer a need to keep Pride around. 

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Following the injury last season, Pride took to Instagram to share some positive thoughts. 

"Devastating to say the least that I unfortunately will not be able to suit up and go to war with my brothers this year. I've been playing football for almost my entire life and injuries have always been a part of the game and it truly hurts. It will not deter my determination, diligence and warrior spirit to get back on the field to do what I love doing the most.

"It's true God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers and His plan is never wrong. I'm living proof because I never thought I'd be here. I will be back better, faster and stronger than ever and continue to live my childhood dreams."

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