Thompson will play in nickel packages while Thomas Davis serves a four-game suspension to start the season, David Newton of ESPN.com reports.
Thompson started all 14 games he played last season, but he frequently came off the field when the Panthers deployed their nickel defense. He figures to handle a three-down for at least the first four weeks of the 2018 campaign, creating potential for solid IDP production until Davis returns.
The Panthers exercised Thompson's fifth-year option on Tuesday.
This has been the plan for almost a month now, and it's finally set in stone. In 2017, Thompson picked up 61 tackles (41 solo) and two sacks, but he'll likely expand his role further in 2018 as Carolina prepares for veteran linebacker Thomas Davis to retire after the season.
The Panthers plan to pick up Thompson's fifth-year option for 2019, The Charlotte Observer reports.
The move isn't overly surprising with Thompson taking a step forward in 2017 and veteran linebacker Thomas Davis set to retire following the 2018 season. Davis -- who turned 35 last week -- is expected to take a further reduced role next season as well, which should create additional opportunities for Thompson. The 23-year-old should have a chance for a breakout season, and the Panthers picking up the fifth-year option removes the potential pressure of entering a contract year.
Thompson finished with 61 tackles (41 solo), two sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games played this season.
Thompson has been a confounding commodity since the Panthers spent a first-round pick on him in 2015. Although he's increased his tackle total in each season, the presence of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis ahead of him, along with his own inconsistencies, has kept him at bay from a playing time perspective. However, with 2018 marking the final year of his rookie contract, and Davis showing signs of aging, it'll be interesting to see whether Thompson can finally live up to his pedigree.
Thompson (foot) was a full participant in Thursday's practice, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Thompson was a DNP on Wednesday's injury report, but his full availability Thursday puts him right back on track to play in the season finale against the Falcons.
|Bye: Week 4|
|6||10/14/18||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|7||10/21/18||@ PHI||1:00 pm|
|10||11/8/18||@ PIT||8:20 pm|
|11||11/18/18||@ DET||1:00 pm|
|13||12/2/18||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|