Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson will see a familiar face on Sunday against Atlanta.
Thompson played for the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, for two years at the University of Washington, where Sarkisian was head coach before leaving for Southern Cal in 2013.
Sarkisian went through a public struggle with alcohol in 2014-15 at Southern Cal, where he was forced to take a leave of absence and ultimately fired. He was hired as Alabama’s offensive coordinator in January 2017, before departing a month later for the Falcons position.
Thompson went from a stellar career with the Huskies as a multi-position player to a first-round pick for Carolina in 2015. He continues to think very highly of Sarkisian, despite everything the latter has been through.
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“They don’t know the real him,” said Thompson. “He’s a great coach and a great guy. I loved him when I was there. We had a great time there and won some games.
“I knew he would bounce back. That’s the type of guy he is. Like I said, he went through all of his stuff but he still came out and now he’s with the Falcons. I’m happy for him. I can’t be happy now, because we play against him (this week) and I’ve got to get after him.”