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Panthers 2021 season opener countdown: 2 days to go

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

Carolina Panthers Training Camp Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

We’re two days away from the Carolina Panthers 2021 season opener, so today’s countdown piece is devoted to No. 2 on the roster — wide receiver DJ Moore.

The first time DJ Moore came on my radar was when No. 23 Texas opened the 2017 season at home against unranked Maryland. It was former Texas coach Tom Herman’s debut in burnt orange, and let’s just say it didn’t go too well.

DJ Moore was unstoppable in Austin that day. His seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown may not seem like a huge amount, but his effect on the game went beyond the stat line.

Maryland was up by a field goal early in the fourth quarter, and Texas was looking to get the ball back and take the lead. The Longhorns pushed Maryland to a third-and-19 at midfield with eight minutes left in the game. Get a stop and Maryland punts.

Well, it didn’t go that way.

40 yards to Moore to the Texas 7-yard line. That play all but iced the game. Maryland scored two plays later and the Terps never looked back.

Fast-forward to today and the reliable Moore has played in 15, 15 and 16 games over his three seasons in Charlotte. The 24-year-old earned back-to-back 1,100-yard+ seasons over the past two years, including a career-high 87 catches in 2019.

Now with a new number (2) and a new quarterback (Sam Darnold), Moore will be looking to reach new career highs. There’s good reason to believe that Moore and Robby Anderson will see more quality targets from Darnold compared to Teddy Bridgewater last year, but it depends on who you talk to.

Here’s what Fantasy Pros’ Kyle Yates had to say about Moore’s upcoming 2021 season:

Darnold is known for peppering his slot receiver with targets, which is where I’m fully expecting Moore to line up at the majority of the time. Moore should lead this WR corps in targets and he’ll be an extremely valuable asset in Full PPR formats.

Whether or not he can take that massive leap we’ve been anticipating all rides on the shoulders of Darnold. If Darnold can bounce back, Moore could smash his ADP. If not, he’ll still be a safe option as a middling WR2 that will always have volume. My Very Early Projection: 82-1155-7 receiving.

The only knock on Moore thus far is his 10 career touchdowns, making him less of a red zone threat. However, Moore may not need to score a high amount of touchdowns to be an effective piece with Anderson as the Panthers’ deep threat, and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. expected to take attention away.

In the preseason, the Darnold-to-Moore connection seemed promising enough. Let’s hope it pays dividends down the line.