NFL Nation: Three things: Panthers-Bengals 2011

Three things: Panthers-Bengals

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
2:00
PM ET

Three things to watch for in Cincinnati's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Show up ready: I feel like a broken record, but the Bengals need to show up early in preseason games. So far it's been a turnover-fest for the starting offense and many points allowed for the first-team defense. Through two preseason games, Cincinnati is being outscored 41-10 in the first half when starters get most of the playing time. The Bengals are a young team in need of confidence. Setting the tone at home against Carolina would help.

Strides from Andy Dalton: Cincinnati's second-round pick threw one interception in his first preseason game. Then, Dalton threw two picks and fumbled a handoff with tailback Cedric Benson last week against the New York Jets. These are not encouraging signs for Cincinnati's projected Week 1 starter. Dalton needs to play better and make strides in the right direction against Carolina. So far he's thrown for just 155 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions in two exhibitions.

Defending Cam Newton: A lot of eyes nationally will be on Newton, Carolina's No. 1 overall pick who will start at quarterback Thursday night. This is a chance for the Bengals' defense to defend a dual threat at quarterback. Cincinnati’s starting defense improved last week and is expected to lead the team in 2011.

Three things: Panthers-Bengals

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
8:06
AM ET

Three things to watch for in Carolina’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET:

1. Cam Newton versus Cam Newton. Really, there is a way Newton still could lose out on being the opening-day starter at quarterback. He’d have to go into Cincinnati and throw four or five interceptions, mess up a few handoffs and look like he doesn’t know the offense. Anything less than a truly horrible performance and Newton will get the nod. The Panthers know Newton is their future and their future begins Sept. 11 in Arizona.

2. Newton’s chemistry with Steve Smith. It looks as if Smith will play this week after missing the first two exhibitions with a hand injury. Newton and Jimmy Clausen struggled without him as the other Carolina receivers failed to get consistent separation from defensive backs. We know Newton and Smith worked out together some in the offseason and before the hand injury. Still, it would be nice to see Newton gets a chance to throw a few passes Smith’s way in game conditions.

3. Rookie defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain. The Panthers have had trouble stopping the run the last couple seasons and Reggie Bush was able to run between the tackles in the last preseason game. The Panthers had hoped that signing veteran free-agent Ron Edwards would solve all this, but he suffered an injury that’s expected to keep him out all season. Unless the Panthers find gold on the waiver wire, they might just turn the starting spots over to McClain and Fua. Both were picked in the third round and the Panthers might as well let them grow up together.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/25
Sunday, 9/28
Monday, 9/29
WEEKLY LEADERS