NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted out some good news for the Carolina Panthers as linebacker Shaq Thompson only suffered an MCL sprain at the end of the Seahawks game when he hurt his knee trying to make a tackle on kickoff coverage.
The Panthers' first round pick has seen his role increase every week as the regular season moves on. After playing only 25% of the snaps in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has played close to 50% or more of the defensive snaps every week since. Through the first five games, Thompson has made 20 tackles with one sack.
Last year, the third linebacker position was a weakness as they struggled to keep players healthy. The team saw injuries to A.J. Klein and Chase Blackburn before turning to undrafted rookie Adarius Glanton to finish out the season. However, they operated primarily out of the nickel down the stretch with only two linebackers on the field (Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis).
While this injury doesn't appear to be serious, the defense is much more equipped to deal with A.J. Klein as the primary backup. While Klein doesn't have the same athletic ability as Thompson, he is much stronger against the run. Klein is dealing with an injury of his own, but seemed like he might be close to returning from a concussion.
The Panthers would love to have Thompson back on the field, but they are in a position where they won't have to rush him back. It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, he practices this week ahead of Sunday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.