First quarter report card: Panthers


Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

With four games down, it's time for first quarter report cards. We'll break down each of the NFC South teams this afternoon, starting with the 3-1 Carolina Panthers.

OFFENSE: Quarterback Jake Delhomme is back and the offense has been more than respectable. DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart give the team a strong backfield combination. The rest of the receiving corps was good enough to get through the first two games without the suspended Steve Smith. The only downside is tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah could be missing time with some injuries. GRADE: B

DEFENSE: Defensive end Julius Peppers isn't lighting the world on fire, but he's playing better than last year. The back seven, led by middle linebacker Jon Beason and safety Chris Harris, has been excellent. Third-round pick Charles Godfrey stepped right into the starting free safety job and has been solid. GRADE: B+

COACHING: John Fox made the right move on every level when he suspended Smith for the first two games after he hit teammate Ken Lucas in training camp. He pulled his team together after the incident. With his quarterback healthy and the running game improved, Fox is back to coaching in his ball-control style. GRADE: A