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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Anticipating Dolphins-Panthers

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

As we wait for Thursday night’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins, here are some thoughts to ponder.

All indications out of Carolina are that running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will be playing. But I’m very curious to see if having both of these guys banged up will take a toll on Carolina’s running game. It’s tough -- more like impossible -- to get injury information out of coach John Fox. So we’ll have to wait and see just how injured Williams and Stewart are. They’ve been a large part of the reason the Panthers suddenly are playing good football, and I’m thinking Fox finally has learned the lesson that it’s best not to put the game in the hands of Jake Delhomme. Keep it on the ground and let Williams and Stewart do their thing -- if they’re able.

When All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross went out with a season-ending injury on Sunday, the Panthers shifted left guard Travelle Wharton to left tackle and inserted Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard. They got through the rest of the Atlanta game without any major problems. I’m guessing the Panthers will go with that same alignment tonight. Wharton played left tackle earlier in his career and was serviceable at that spot. The bigger question is Bernadeau. He doesn’t have much experience and I’m sure the Dolphins will try to test him.

I wish I could be in Charlotte for the game because I’d like to see what happens on the field before the game. I’m real curious to see if Fox and Miami offensive coordinator Dan Henning shake hands or talk at all. Fox fired Henning after the 2006 season and I don’t think there’s a lot of love remaining between the two.

I know it’s a short week and I know Fox is a creature of habit, but I wonder if he might make a little move at linebacker. The absence of the injured Thomas Davis was very apparent against Atlanta. Landon Johnson and James Anderson both have experience, but they’re just not that good. With Davis gone for the season, I wonder if Fox has considered sliding backup middle linebacker Dan Connor to the outside.

I’ll be watching the game from home and will be checking in with observations during and after the game, so keep checking the NFC South blog.