Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Panthers-Bengals thoughts

Days away from the Panthers-Bengals in week three of the preseason. Couple quick hits on that one.

CAM NEWTON should have a good night. Cincinnati is beginning to resemble what the Panthers looked like last year. That's not good. I would think the offense will enjoy a night of success, with Newton finding receivers down field, and the running game getting some good work done. IF this happens, Newton is the week 1 starter against the Arizona Cardinals. If not, then Ron Rivera has a decision to make with his quarterbacks.

Good to see Jeff Otah back on the field on Monday. Hard to look at him and say he isn't missed. Figures lie and liars figure, but hard to argue what Otah means to the running game. Two years ago, when healthy, the Panthers ran at will. Over 2300 yards on the ground. Last year, they were stuck in neutral, just over 1800 yards rushing. Otah didn't play a snap last season. The sooner he gets ready, and playing, the Panthers become a force in the ground game. Let's also not forget Geoff Schwartz is on the mend as well, and his absence has been noticeable this preseason.

Defensively, the Panthers have to do something to shore up the DT spot. Corvey Irvin, Sione Fua, and Terrell McClain work hard, but will that be enough? Tough spot for new Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott to be in, but then again, with young guys come the chance for a coach to make a huge impression. After watching what Miami did last week, the feeling they can improve is very real. What would also help is the return of Jon Beason, who continues to deal with an achilles issue.

Overall, this team has been without some pretty big names through the exhibitions. Luckily, they haven't lost key contributors in those games (although losing DT Ron Edwards in camp certainly hurt). Here's hoping they get through Cincinnati in good shape. Plenty of tough decisions remain for the coaches.

Mike Solarte

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