Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.


–LB Shaq Thompson went on injured reserve prior to the Atlanta game because of a shoulder injury. He had played in the first 14 games with 11 starts. He was the second-leading tackler on the team.

–DT Kawann Short was on the inactive list for the Atlanta game with a lingering calf injury. He remained out of practice by mid-week prior to the season finale.

–LG Trai Turner (ankle) left the home finale against Atlanta and it’s unlikely he’ll be available for the game at New Orleans.

–OL Tyler Larsen filled in for Trai Turner at left guard in the Atlanta game.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: CB Donte Jackson. The rookie wraps up a strong first season when the Panthers go to New Orleans. That’s not far from where he played collegiately for LSU. Jackson has shown an emotional streak in recent games and it appears the losses are weighing on him.

GAME PLAN: The Panthers will have to draw back the playbook by going with a quarterback for the second week in a row with barely any NFL experience. If Kyle Allen draws the start (with Cam Newton and Taylor Heinicke out), the Panthers don’t have a lot to draw on. The problem is they don’t want to put too much on second-year running back Christian McCaffrey, who has had a strong season but certainly is wearing down by this point.

The defense hasn’t been nearly as strong consistently as the Panthers would like. They’re not likely to face a full dose of Saints offense in terms of personnel or play-calling, so that means this should be a chance for Carolina’s defense to take control in certain aspects if the unit is at all engaged. Expect they would like nothing more than to free up veterans Julius Peppers and Thomas Davis for a big play or two in what could be the final game of their careers.

–Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Saints LB Demario Davis. McCaffrey accomplished a little of everything in the meeting earlier this month, throwing for a touchdown for Carolina’s only points on offense. Davis has put together a strong season with more than 100 tackles. He made a team-high eight stops in the first matchup of the season with the Panthers and his spot in the middle will be crucial in containing the Carolina offense, which is likely to be limited in some ways.

–Panthers CBs James Bradberry and Captain Munnerlyn vs. Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. Members of the defensive backfield have had strong moments this season and this is a chance to cap the campaign with something good. Bradberry’s best season will end this weekend, so he’ll want something positive to take to the offseason, while Munnerlyn will want to prove that he’s worth bringing back for another season. Ginn is a former Panther who was activated from injured reserve since the teams met for the first time this season less than two weeks ago. So for Ginn this figures to be an important outing as he tries to return to rhythm, particularly knowing the Saints will begin the postseason with a bye.