Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 08, 2018 at 1:32 am.


–C Ryan Kalil is dealing with an ankle injury suffered in the Tampa Bay game and he has missed practice time. The short week probably won’t help matters, so even if he starts it’s worth keeping an eye on him. Head coach Ron Rivera said there’s a good chance Kalil will be available in some capacity.

–S Eric Reid has taken part in some practice activities after suffering a shoulder injury late in the game against Tampa Bay. He returned to action in that game, but with the short turnaround this could be an issue.

–RB Christian McCaffrey eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving yards just half way through his second season. He’s the fourth Panthers running back in history to reach that 1,000-yard receiving plateau.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: DE Mario Addison. He’s a force on the line and his ability to find openings when attention is focused on other defenders is a big bonus. He’s coming off a career-best three-sack outing against Tampa Bay, while he also forced a fumble in that game. He has moved up to fourth place on the franchise’s all-time sacks list with 44.

GAME PLAN: The Panthers know they’re likely going to have few chances to waste so they’ve got to make sure they’re scoring when they have the chance. The Steelers can be stingy against the rush, so look for Carolina’s versatility to factor into the play-calling. The Panthers are bound to look for a few more downfield options than in the past, particularly with scripts in the past few games offering all sorts of things for defenses to consider.

The Panthers will have to do a better job in pass defense. The problem is that the Steelers protect well, so cranking up the pass rush might not be the answer. The Panthers tend to give up too many yards through the air, but often make up for some of that with interceptions.

–Panthers WRs DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel vs. Steelers CB Joe Haden. The Panthers are making big plays in part because of the speed displayed by Moore and Samuel. He has created a new dynamic for the offense as they’ve become bigger parts of the schemes. But a veteran cornerback such as Haden could be crafty enough to halt some of those momentum-altering plays. Moore and Samuel still have lots to prove and they’ll have to show it against different types of experienced defenders.

–Panthers CB vs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Panthers have grown tremendously in the secondary with the young cornerbacks, but this is a different type of test. James Bradberry has emerged as a steady defender and Carolina will need him to display that improvement again. Rookie Donte Jackson has come up with big plays on the back end, but he could be picked on at times to see if he can make all the plays consistently. Roethlisberger is capable of targeting certain areas and that will be a concern for the Panthers. He has thrown for 16 touchdowns this season, racking up more than 2,500 yards in eight games.