Panthers place Shaq Thompson on injured reserve


CHARLOTTE -- After an eventful Wednesday that saw both offense and special teams lose a key contributor, the Panthers defense suffered a blow Thursday in the form of linebacker Shaq Thompson.

Thompson has been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

In the loss to New Orleans in Week 15, Thompson tallied eight tackles and combined with defensive tackle Vernon Butler for a sack of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The 24-year-old Thompson had been dealing with shoulder issues on and off throughout the season, but he still managed to play in all 14 of Carolina's games, including 11 starts.

Next to fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly, Thompson played a major role early in the season with Thomas Davis missing the first four games due to a league suspension. In those four starts, Thompson, whose versatility allows him to play both outside linebacker and nickel, contributed 22 tackles and a sack.

Thompson finished the year with 79 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Against Baltimore in Week 7, he posted a career-high 13 tackles in a 36-21 victory.

With quarterback Taylor Heinicke starting in place of Cam Newton in Week 16, rookie Kyle Allen is set to be called up from the practice squad to serve as his backup against Atlanta, replacing Thompson on the 53-man roster.

After three seasons of college football - two at Texas A&M and one at the University of Houston - Allen signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in April before being waived September 1 and signed to the practice squad the following day. He was released nine days later, but was re-signed to the practice squad on October 30.

The Panthers filled Allen's spot on the practice squad with Elijah Qualls, a defensive tackle who was teammates with Thompson at the University of Washington. The 6-foot-1, 321-pound Qualls was a sixth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2017 and won a Super Bowl ring with them but was waived in the final roster cutdown.

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