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The One Veteran That Runs the Carolina Panthers Offense

Adam Thielen

The Carolina Panthers signed former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen to a three-year, $25 million deal in the offseason. Now heading into the regular season, Thielen’s impact and health will be insurmountable for rookie quarterback Bryce Young.

With a reworked wide receiver room, opportunities were aplenty for the new regime. With DJ Chark, Terrace Marshall, and Laviska Shenault on the injury report, it leaves Thielen and rookie Jonathan Mingo as the lone healthy core wide receivers.

“I think it’s important in the NFL to have depth, you just never know,” Thielen said. “Obviously, those guys are important, and they’re going to be important to the success of this offense and this team. So we’re hoping that they get back and all that.”

Why the Carolina Panthers Offense Will Run Through Adam Thielen

An Injury Scare

The Panthers front office had a frightening moment in their last preseason game as Adam Thielen went down on the sideline. After walking off the field and going into the blue tent, Thielen immediately came back onto the field. Apparently, Thielen had the wind knocked out of him, but with already three receivers injured, the team decided not to further risk the health of their veteran receiver.

Adam Thielen went on to finish the game with four receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown. His touchdown reception would be Young’s first NFL touchdown. Young found Thielen toward the left sideline, and the veteran receiver finished the play by stretching across the pylon. The touchdown capped off a nine-play, 62-yard drive. It would be the only touchdown scored by the starters in the preseason.

The Consistent No. 1

Throughout Panthers training camp and the preseason, there has been one consistent, healthy, and skilled target on the field. Thielen has quickly become Young’s most reliable target, as Mingo is still developing as a route runner. The health of Thielen will be of the utmost importance for Young as he grows into an NFL quarterback. With Adam Thielen’s ability to create separation and reliability to catch the ball, he’ll likely see 8-10 targets per game as the rest of the wide receiver room develops and recovers to full health.

“I thought he did a great job,” head coach Frank Reich said on Young’s connection with his wide receivers. “I think he’s got a lot of confidence in his teammates. The thing about it is since OTAs and training camp, those receivers, he’s kind of repped through with all those receivers. So that’s the positive thing; as a young guy coming in, I think he’s had a chance to get to work with and throw a lot of balls to every receiver on our roster. So I think he had a comfort level with all of them.”

While the Panthers offense flashed to end the preseason, they’ll have to wait till Sept. 10 before seeing the field again. The new Panthers regime’s first test will come against the Atlanta Falcons. With a wide-open NFC South, the season opener will answer multiple questions about who is a contender for the division title.

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Main Photo: Bob Donnan – USA Today Sports


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