Panthers LB Shaq Thompson Eyeing 2023 Return?

When Shaq Thompson underwent surgery to repair his fractured fibula, it was assumed the Panthers linebacker would miss the rest of the season. While that’s still the most likely scenario, the veteran is apparently holding out hope for a return in 2023.

Thompson told reporters that there’s a chance he could return to the field this season (via Joe Person of The Athletic). The linebacker revealed that his recovery timeline is three months, which would put a potential return around mid-December.

If Thompson doesn’t have any setbacks, he could have the opportunity to play in the Panthers’ final three or four games. Of course, if the organization is out of the playoff picture at that point, they may just choose to keep the 29-year-old healthy for the 2024 campaign. Thompson is still under contract through next season, although the Panthers do have an easy out if they want to move on from the former first-round pick.

Thompson suffered the injury during the Panthers’ Week 2 loss to the Saints. The linebacker is the team’s longest-tenure player and only remaining holdover from the Super Bowl 50 squad. He had one of the most productive seasons of his career in 2022, finishing with a career-high 135 tackles.

Offseason addition Kamu Grugier-Hill has been the biggest benefactor of Thompson’s injury. After exclusively playing on special teams in Week 1, the veteran has seen the field for 110 defensive snaps over the past two weeks. Former Pro Bowler Deion Jones made his season debut in Week 3, playing 52 defensive snaps alongside Grugier-Hill and Frankie Luvu.

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