SPARTANBURG, S.C. – For the second consecutive day, linebacker Shaq Thompson failed to intercept quarterback Cam Newton.
What in the world is going on?
"I don't know, man. Cam just looked the other way," Thompson said. "Interceptions aren't going to come every day, but tomorrow is another day."
For a minute there, it looked like interceptions might be a daily occurrence at training camp for Thompson. He recently picked off Newton in consecutive practices and did so in highlight-worthy fashion.
Thompson didn't record an interception as a rookie, and while it's a stat that's hard to predict, it's hard to imagine Thompson not recording one this upcoming season.
"I was kind of blind, didn't really know what my role was," Thompson said of his rookie experience. "I had to learn the defense, earn the trust and make it onto the field. And I'm going to continue to learn.
"I just feel comfortable. It took a year to just get acclimated with everything. I feel at home. I know what my position is. I know what I'm supposed to do. I know where I'm supposed to be. I'm just out there having fun now."
Thompson's position is a unique one, but at the same time it's one that's becoming more commonplace in the NFL. He played all over the place at the University of Washington, and while he's a linebacker on this level, he plays all over the place within his role.
He has the strength to play the run like a traditional linebacker, but he has the speed to play the pass like a traditional defensive back if the situation calls for it.
"I think it all started with Deone (Buchanan) from the Cardinals, and now you see Mark Barron (Rams), Su'a Cravens (Redskins), Myles Jack (Jaguars) in the same role. A lot of guys are looking to that, to get a lot of fast guys on the field."
Thompson proved once and for all that he's capable of handling the role in the NFC Championship, when he often tracked – and contained – future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
"You've got to go out there with confidence, even when you know a guy is legit-good," Thompson said. "You still have to have that mindset that he's not going to beat me, that I'm the best on the field. Regardless of who we're playing against, you have to have the confidence that you're going to win that play."