Shaq Thompson carted off with an injury. Sep 18, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson (7) with quarterback Bryce Young (9) after being injured in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers are set to be without one of their key defensive figures for a while. Linebacker Shaq Thompson left their Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter when Panthers’ defensive lineman DeShawn Williams pushed Saints’ tackle Trevor Penning down at the end of a running play, which led to Penning crashing into Thompson’s leg:

Carolina head coach Frank Reich said after the game, which ended with a 20-17 loss for the Panthers, that Thompson is likely to miss “some extended time” with this injury. Reich said it’s a “significant” one to his ankle. And that had teammates mourning that they might have to play for a while without Thompson, one of their team captains and a crucial part of their defense:

“There’s no doubt who the leader is on this team,” defensive tackle Derrick Brown said. “And I think you saw that, and you know, for him to go down to hurt everybody.”

“It’s always tough to see your brothers go down to injury; it just sucks, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said. “That’s the part of the game, you know. But you know, Shaq is one of those guys that he wouldn’t want us to hold our head; he would want us to just go harder. But you definitely hate to see it for somebody like Shaq, man, such a good guy, such a great professional, such a person that, you know, that does everything right. You know what I’m saying? So it sucks.

“We just keep working, just keep working. Just do what he would want us to do, and that’s keep working. Let’s go harder for real. He’s a leader, and if he was out here, he’d be doing the same thing. All we can do is band together and keep advancing and keep progressing. Because we got a good thing going, and he would want us to keep this **** going.”

“Shaq is the general, right?” [linebacker Kamu] Grugier-Hill said. “My whole purpose, coming into this year, I need to get Shaq ready every game, right? And he’s helped me tremendously grow as a linebacker. So, I mean, I’m just, I’m hurting for him right now.”

Thompson has been with the Panthers since they drafted him in the first round (25th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, with that selection coming following his impressive college career with the Washington Huskies. He started all 17 of their games last season, recording a career-high 135 tackles. He’s set for further injury evaluation Tuesday, but it looks like Carolina may have to adapt to his absence for some time.




About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.