Panthers LB Shaq Thompson to miss extended time with ankle injury: What his loss means for Carolina

Sep 18, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson (7) is injured and taken off the field on a cart in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Person and The Athletic Staff
Sep. 19, 2023

Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson will miss extended time with a “significant” ankle injury suffered Monday against the New Orleans Saints, coach Frank Reich said. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Thompson was carted off the field at the end of the first quarter and ruled out.
  • Thompson, the Panthers’ longest-tenured position player, was hurt when offensive tackle Trevor Penning fell on the back of his right leg. Nearly every player on the Panthers’ bench came on the field before Thompson was carted to the locker room.
  • Journeyman Kamu Grugier-Hill replaced Thompson and finished with six tackles and a sack in the 20-17 loss.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

What this means for Carolina

Yes, the Panthers lost 100-plus tackles when Thompson went down. He has had four consecutive seasons with at least 100 stops. But they also lost a leader whom Brian Burns called the “motor to the defense.”


Thompson is one of only two remaining links to the Panthers’ 2015 Super Bowl team, as well as a team captain who called the defensive signals. His loss will be felt. But the Panthers have a couple of internal options, including Grugier-Hill, who was arguably the team’s best player at training camp. Grugier-Hill turned in a nice game after taking over for Thompson on Monday, finishing with six tackles and one of the four sacks on Derek Carr. — Person


Thompson is coming off a strong 2022 season in which he amassed a career-high 135 tackles. The 29-year-old is the fifth player in team history to record 100 tackles in four straight seasons.

Carolina’s defense is already missing cornerback Jaycee Horn, who was placed on IR after undergoing a hamstring procedure.

Required reading

(Photo: Bob Donnan / USA Today)

Get all-access to exclusive stories.

Subscribe to The Athletic for in-depth coverage of your favorite players, teams, leagues and clubs. Try a week on us.