We’re 52 days away from the Carolina Panthers 2021 season opener, so that means today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 52 on the roster — linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Perryman played his college ball at Miami, following in the footsteps of former Panthers linebacker greats Dan Morgan and Jon Beason (Beason, ironically enough, also donned the No. 52 during his time in Charlotte). After a solid showing at the Senior Bowl, Perryman was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the then San Diego Chargers. He’s been with San Diego/Los Angeles since, though he has yet to play a full season due to battling various injuries.
When he has been on the field, he has had solid production, at least against the run. He’s averaging about five tackles per game for his career, and was especially effective last season. He played in 13 games last year for the Bolts and missed only one single tackle all year. His strengths as a tackler are somewhat balanced out by his weakness against the pass. He was targeted in coverage 23 times last season, allowing opposing quarterbacks a rating of almost 95. He was used sparingly as a blitzer with the Chargers, notching only five career sacks to this point in his career. The Panthers saw enough last season to ink Perryman to a two-year deal this past offseason.
Perryman is currently penciled in as the starting middle linebacker, and that is unlikely to change. I’d expect Perryman to be one of the linebackers in the nickel package as well, though I’d wager Shaq Thompson will be the dime backer. The hope with Perryman is that the pass rush of the defensive line and athleticism of the defensive backs will help limit his liability in coverage. When allowed to run around and play the ball, he can really pack a wallop.