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Carolina Panthers

Shaq Thompson slims down to weight that suits him


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Much of the conversation about linebacker Shaq Thompson has been about what he has to gain – more snaps, more opportunities to make plays for Carolina's defense.

But before any of that, his offseason was about what he had to lose.

"I was a little heavy last year, and now I'm back to my 2015 weight," Thompson said. "Moving a lot more and able to cover wide receivers. I just feel great.

"I was 240 (pounds) last year and now I am around 228-230."

Thompson said he packed on some pounds last year to combat the 300-pound offensive linemen he faced in the box. But the additional weight didn't feel natural, and Thompson didn't want to see his quickness suffer.

"I felt it throughout the season. I was getting tired and was like, 'I can't do this, I got to get down to my (normal) weight,'" he explained. "I feel like I can hold my own (without the extra weight). I can use speed, power and all that. I really lost it to go out there and cover."

Thompson said there aren't any secrets to his weight-loss plan. Just old-fashioned resistance.

"I just would eat twice a day and that was it," he said. "Starving myself."

After a summer of fighting hunger, Thompson says he's feeling great, and he's been a standout performer through the first few days of training camp practices.

Still, the "good problem to have" remains for the coaching staff. How do they get Thompson on the field more often when studs like Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are ahead of him?

"We have to look at some things we can do differently to put him in position to stay on the football field," head coach Ron Rivera said of the 2015 first-round pick. "He's too productive a guy for us to rotate him on and off.

"I think he'll earn an opportunity this year to play even more."

All that said, the understated, even-keeled Thompson is content doing whatever is asked of him as he enters Year Three in the NFL.

"I understand my role," Thompson said. "My role is to go in when my number is called. That's who I am and that's what I do. I love and enjoy watching Thomas (Davis) and Luke (Kuechly) go out there and play. They fly around during practice and in the games. I enjoy it and like I said, I know that when my number is called, I've got to go out there and be productive. There is no, 'Oh, I want to play more.' I just know my role."

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