Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

December 06, 2018 at 1:12 am.


–WR Devin Funchess was in action again at Tampa Bay after missing the previous game with a back injury. He only made one catch for 10 yards, though he was on the receiving end of a would-be touchdown pass if that hadn’t been negated by a penalty. His one catch represented a season-low.

–WR Mose Frazier was added to the active roster Wednesday to replace TE Greg Olsen. Frazier has spent most of the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the team’s practice squad, though he was activated for a pair of games last season.

–G Trai Turner didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice because of a neck ailment. It’s not believed that it will cause him to miss game time.

–LB Luke Kuechly’s fumble recovery last week gives him 24 career takeaways in seven seasons. With 918 career tackles, Kuechly has the most stops of any NFL player through the first seven seasons of a career.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WR Curtis Samuel. Samuel has been a play-maker at times and he returns to the state where he was a standout in college for Ohio State. His consistency level has wavered considerably, but he’s considered the big-play threat that the Panthers need to jump-start some of their offensive woes. Samuel has six touchdowns on 31 total offensive plays this season, though he wasn’t overly involved in the game plan last week at Tampa Bay.

GAME PLAN: The Panthers are bound to mix things up on defense with head coach Ron Rivera taking over the play-calling for that side. Rivera has stressed an aggressive approach and he has been most concerned with some deficiencies on the back end. Whatever the Panthers can do to get linebacker Luke Kuechly in more spots to make an impact is bound to be a priority.

The offense hasn’t solved some of its red-zone snags and with quarterback Cam Newton clearly dealing with some shoulder soreness that’s likely to impact some of the pass packages that are used. It’s probably no secret that the Panthers might not look down the field as often, but they’ll have to find ways to compensate for that.

–Panthers WR Jarius Wright vs. Browns secondary. Wright’s value might be going up, particularly with TE Greg Olsen no longer in the mix as a key target. Of Wright’s 28 receptions this season, 11 have come on third or fourth down (resulting in first downs nine times). The Browns give up receiving yards, ranking 29th in the NFL in pass defense. Still, S Darmious Randall and CB Denzel Ward each have three interceptions this season for the Browns. Ward’s status for the game could be in question as he left last week’s game with an injury.

Panthers T Taylor Moton vs. Browns DE Myles Garrett. The Panthers haven’t done a great job protecting QB Cam Newton in recent weeks and the challenge will be a big one this week. There should be stability on the offensive line after some issues earlier this season, but the group hasn’t always meshed. The Panthers gave up four sacks last week at Tampa Bay. Garrett has 11.5 sacks this season and he’s cranking up a special season in his second year in in the league. Garrett also has forced three fumbles this season.