W2W4: Carolina Panthers

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
12:00
PM ET
The Carolina Panthers (0-1) face the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium.

Here are three things to watch for during the game:
  • Quarterback watch: Cam Newton will get his first test of the preseason after sitting out the opener. He will play at least the first quarter and into the second if the offensive line is giving him adequate protection. He is showing no ill effects from offseason surgery on his left ankle and was turned loose to run the read-option a week ago in practice. He won't run the read-option against the Chiefs. He will do as little running as possible as the Panthers want to remain cautious. The key is to take the chemistry Newton has shown with his new receivers in practice into the game -- particularly with first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin. Their college teams aside, Newton and Benjamin have developed a close bond off the field, and they're anxious to establish that in games. Benjamin is a big target at 6-foot-5, and Newton has had no hesitation giving him chances to make catches in practice.
  • Double trouble: Starting running back DeAngelo Williams was given the night off for the preseason opener, and backup Jonathan Stewart was nursing a hamstring injury. Both will play Sunday, the first time they have both been this healthy at the same time in a few seasons. Because they give Carolina a nice change of pace with their running styles, Williams more the outside threat and Stewart the power runner, it will be interesting to see how they work behind basically a new offensive line. The Panthers want to establish the ball control offense that was a big part of last season's success. These two will be key to that.
  • Got a nickel: Safety-turned-cornerback Charles Godfrey was exposed big time in the preseason opener, surrendering a 32-yard catch on Buffalo's first possession. He and cornerback Antoine Cason say there was a breakdown in communication and that it has been fixed. Godfrey is key to the defense playing at the level it did a season ago when it ranked second in the league. If he can make the transition from safety to nickelback and effectively shut down the opponent's big receiver in the slot -- not to mention bring the heat on blitzes -- there shouldn't be a drop-off. In practice he is still showing inconsistency in coverage, and he hasn't done well on one-on-one drills rushing the passer.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Roster Advisor