The improvement of outside linebacker Shaq Thompson could make the Carolina Panthers' defense even more valuable in terms of collecting turnovers despite a secondary that may have two rookie starters.
Remember, this team led the NFL in takeaways a year ago.
ESPN Fantasy Projections: 40.4 sacks, 18.8 interceptions, 8.9 fumble recoveries, four touchdowns, 338.8 points against
Over or under: I'm going with over on the sacks. With an emphasis on pressuring the quarterback to cover for the inexperience of rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will get even more creative. That Thompson is coming into his own makes that easier. He's showing the potential to cover and blitz with the best of them. That end Charles Johnson is healthy after missing seven games last season also factors into this. If the pressure is there, the interceptions will be, so I'll go with over on that. Same for the fumble recoveries. This group recovered 15 a year ago. Might as well go over on the touchdowns as well. Five to six seems reasonable. The points against seem high, so I'll go under. If the corners hold their own, this unit will be better than the one that finished sixth in the NFL a year ago.
Who else could see time: If Bradberry and Worley don't work out, the Panthers always can turn to Bene' Benwikere and Robert McClain. Benwikere was the starter before suffering a fractured ankle in December. McClain started all three playoff games, including the Super Bowl.