Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 15, 2018 at 12:24 am.


–WR Torrey Smith suffered a knee injury last month against Philadelphia and missed three games. He has been back for some practice work this week on a limited basis, so it’s unlikely he’ll suit up for the Detroit game.

–CB James Bradberry missed a practice this week because of illness, but he was back the next day so there shouldn’t be an issue regarding his status to face the Lions.

–DT Kawann Short is tied for the NFL lead among defensive tackles with 7.5 run stuffs this season. He shares the distinction with Detroit DT Damon Harrison Sr.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: RB Christian McCaffrey. He scored all the team’s touchdowns last week at Pittsburgh. His seven-touchdown total across the past three games marks the most for a player with the team since RB DeAngelo Williams did it 10 years ago. Through 25 career games, McCaffrey has scored 15 touchdowns.

GAME PLAN: The Panthers have made it clear they’re willing to ride running back Christian McCaffrey as he often has a large role on the team. He figures to be fresher for this week’s game with the Panthers after having a few extra days to recover after a Thursday night loss at Pittsburgh. Regardless of who’s in the backfield, the Panthers are aware of the importance of establishing something credible on the ground and look for that to be a priority against a Detroit team that ranks 28th in the NFL in rushing defense.

The Panthers haven’t always displayed a fast gear on the pass rush even though that figures to be one of the strengths for this unit. They’ll be looking to get after Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Plus, perhaps the Steelers exposed some cracks in the defensive backfield, so the Panthers have to be wary of where they might be attacked most often.

–Panthers LBs vs. Lions RBs Theo Riddick and Kerryon Johnson. The Panthers have active players in the middle with LBs Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson, whose growth has been notable in several areas this season. But the Lions will make this group work in pass coverage in ways some teams might not have done. Riddick and Johnson have 36 and 30 receptions, respectively, giving Detroit the only team with a duo of running backs with 30 or more catches. In total, Lions running backs have 74 receptions (of 223 total catches for the team).

–Panthers OL vs. Lions DT Damon Harrison Sr. The Panthers get a second dose of Harrison this season. He played against Carolina when the New York Giants visited. Now he’s back on the opponent list, this time with the Lions after a late-October trade. Harrison is the NFL leader among defensive tackles with 51 tackles this season. He has eight tackles for loss. In the Oct. 7 game, the Panthers did a solid job in handling Harrison, who had four tackles (and one of those was for a loss). Panthers C Ryan Kalil will have to apply what he learned last month during this rematch with Harrison.