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Panthers 2021 season opener countdown: 57 days to go

We’re counting down the days until the Panthers kick off the 2021 season.

NFL: AUG 19 Rams Training Camp Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re slowly working our way toward meaningful football, and with 57 days until the Panthers kick off the regular season, today’s Panthers player on the countdown is No. 57 — linebacker Clay Johnston.

One of Ron Rivera’s weaknesses was his nepotism, but thankfully the current regime does not have that same bad habit. Wait, nevermind. They do. Clay is the son of current Panthers director of player wellness Kent Johnston. He also went to Baylor, because of course he did. Somehow, Matt Rhule and company resisted the urge to draft Johnston, instead letting the Los Angeles Rams take him in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was waived that September and signed to the Panthers practice squad three days later. Funny how things work out.

He didn’t stay on the practice squad for long, getting activated for the final two games of the regular season. In those two games, he totaled three defensive snaps at the linebacker position and 21 special teams snaps. He did manage to notch a tackle in one of those games. With quite a few more highly touted linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart, chances are Johnston will be headed back to the practice squad this year.