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Monday, September 30, 2013
Panthers move up during bye week

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A member of the Carolina Panthers staff joked last week that he'd never heard an NFL head coach say it was a bad time to have a bye week.

Sure enough, coach Ron Rivera said Week 4 was a good time for the Panthers (1-2) to have a bye.

Here are four reasons why:

You can't lose: Not to be a smart aleck, but when you don't play you can't lose. The Panthers actually moved into sole possession of second place in the NFC South thanks to losses by Atlanta (1-3) to New England and Tampa Bay (0-4) to Arizona. A loss by the New Orleans Saints (3-0) against Miami (3-0) on Monday night and they could close the gap on first.

But they did lose ground in that only five NFC teams had a better record going into Week 4 and seven do now.  

Time to heal: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards got another week to heal a thigh injury that sidelined him for Week 3. The Panthers need Edwards to maintain the solid rotation they want on the line. It also basically gave linebacker Jon Beason, who seems to be missing a step since returning from offseason knee surgery, a two-week break. He was in for only one play against the New York Giants. Cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) and safety Quintin Mikell (ankle) also should be back this week.

Evaluation: The early break gives the coaching staff a week to break down everything that they've done right and wrong, and correct those things before they get too deep into the season.

Head start: Not that Arizona is lighting it up at 2-2, but the break gives the Panthers an extra week to prepare for the Cardinals. The only way the 38-0 victory over the Giants means anything is to follow it up with another victory. That didn't happen a year ago when Carolina lost five straight after improving to 1-1.