The Carolina Panthers travel to New England to take on the Patriots in their 3rd, and arguably most important, preseason game. Here are three things to look for in the matchup:
We’ll get our first official glimpse of Cam Newton in preseason action tonight when they play the reigning Super Bowl Champs. Coach Ron Rivera said he’d like to see Newton play three to four series. Cam has shown in training camp that he can get the ball downfield and Rivera continues to emphasize that the team is happy with his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, but practice speed and game speed are two different things. How long will it take Newton to knock off the rust? Will we see one of the long completions to Curtis Samuel that wowed at training camp? With the full 1st team offense expected to take snaps we’ll get answers to these questions and more.
Defense’s 3rd Down Efficiency
With the new 3-4 defense and addition of Gerald McCoy, Bruce Irving and rookie Brian Burns, Carolina’s retooled defense was one of the most talked about items of the offseason, but last week’s performance against Buffalo left much to be desired. Yes, the Panthers were playing without linebackers Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson, which the Bills exploited, but there’s enough talent along the defensive front that their departure shouldn’t have had the effect that it did. Josh Allen went 3 of 4 on third down against the Panthers 1st team – including a 25 yard completion to Sweeney that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy. Not the outing the team, nor fans expected. After the game players said that the joint practices with the Bills’ offense led to a level of familiarity that effected the game. This week that will no longer be the case and what better opponent to gauge yourself against than Tom Brady.
Luke Kuechly’s Snaps
Like Cam, Luke has yet to see any preseason action. That’s all expected to change tonight. The All-Pro linebacker has been itching to get live game reps since the Panthers preseason opener against Chicago, but like with Newton, the coaching staff doesn’t see the need to risk the health of one of their most important players. Luke said during training camp that he needs to get a couple of good preseason hits to prepare him for the regular season. The hope is that he’ll get those against New England’s potent offense. With the departure of Thomas Davis, Kuechly is the unquestionable leader of the linebackers and defense. Will his live game debut go seamlessly? How will his presence improve the defense? Will he get those 2-3 good hits that will prepare him for regular season action?
TELEVISION BROADCAST: WSOC-TV in Charlotte. Click here for a list of affiliates in your area.
On The Call: Mick Mixon, Mike Rucker, Caroline Cann
STREAMING VIDEO (IN-MARKET): The broadcast will be streamed live for free on Panthers.com on desktop and mobile web as well as the Panthers app. It is only available for fans in the Panthers primary markets.
STREAMING VIDEO (OUT-OF-MARKET): For fans outside of the primary broadcast area, NFL Game Pass is offering a free 7-day subscription for fans to watch preseason games live! Click here for more information on how to sign up.
LOCAL RADIO BROADCAST: WBT-AM 1110 AM in Charlotte market, click here for a full list of affiliate stations.
On The Call: Jim Szoke, Mike Tolbert, Kevin Donnalley
The Panthers Radio Network features eight hours of game day coverage, beginning three hours before the game and concluding with two hours of wrap up reaction and analysis after the game.