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What Pats need to know about Panthers

8/22/2014

A few quick notes on the Panthers to know, as it relates to the New England Patriots, for Friday night's preseason game between the teams:

Cam Newton's surgery: Quarterback Cam Newton had left ankle surgery in the offseason and it's had him focusing on working more in the pocket this year. Has he lost some explosiveness as a runner?

Bell tolls at left tackle: After longtime stalwart Jordan Gross retired following the 2013 season, one of the bigger questions has been how the Panthers would fill the void. They flipped former undrafted free agent Byron Bell from the right side to the left. Thus, Bell vs. Chandler Jones tonight warrants a closer look.

Depth thinned on right side of offensive line: If the Patriots' pass rush looks explosive coming off the left side, one thing to consider is that Panthers' projected starters Nate Chandler (right tackle/knee) and Trai Turner (right guard/groin) are not dressing for the game. That could lead to a big night for Rob Ninkovich and Co.

Receiver re-do: One year after the Patriots almost completely revamped their receiving corps, the Panthers have undergone a similar change. Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner said Panthers first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin naturally has caught his eye, as well as veteran Jerricho Cotchery. Former Patriot Tiquan Underwood is also battling for a roster spot.

No Cannon-Johnson reunion: With pass-rushing left defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) not dressing tonight, per the Charlotte Observer, it's a break of sorts for Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon. It was Cannon's leg whip of Johnson that led to some hard feelings last year.

Great respect for Patriots: As Ron Rivera points out, via ESPN.com NFL Nation Panthers reporter David Newton, Carolina views the Patriots as the measuring stick for where they hope to be. It's also notable to revisit the history between the franchises.