Today I walked outside and smelled something new in the air. Its smelled like Carolina Panthers football. A mix of leather, sweat, hope and a dash mild disappointment. You know the smell I am talking about. With Panthers training camp kicking off today at Wofford College, I thought I would take a moment to preview the matchups I am most looking forward to seeing. I will be checking back in from time to time to update you on these particular intriguing story lines.
Christian McCaffrey vs Carolina Panthers Linebackers
For me, this is the most intriguing match up of camp. The rookie top 10 runningback versus the best linebacking corps in the NFL. For McCaffrey, this is trial by fire. The PAC 12 doesn’t exactly have linebackers like Luke Kuechly. McCaffrey was able to stifle defenses with his quick footwork in college, but how will that work at the next level exactly?
As a duel threat, it will be most interesting to see not only how McCaffrey adjusts to the defense, but also how the defense adjusts to McCaffrey when he motions out as a receiver. These reps may end up being just as beneficial to the defense with teams like the New England Patriots on the schedule. The more and varied looks the better. Iron sharpens iron, or so they say.
Curtis Samuel vs Corn Elder
Two rookies with much to prove, a slot receiver versus a nickel corner. Although Samuel is a high second round pick and Elder a fifth round pick, the match up here could be much closer than you think. Samuel is moving away from a RB/WR hybrid type role at Ohio State and taking on the slot receiver role full time with the Carolina Panthers. Elder, on the other hand, has had plenty of time at nickel throughout his college career.
Bonus – Elder also has enough of a chip on his shoulder not to back down against any receiver, especially a fellow rookie.
Julius Peppers vs Matt Kalil
The addition of Matt Kalil will remain a huge question mark until he proves otherwise. Carolina Panthers fans can take some comfort in the Panthers’ coaching staff being able to improve the play of incoming veterans, as they did with Michael Oher. Because of this, hopes are high. But a positive outcome is far from guaranteed, unfortunately.
The good news is that the Panthers will know rather quickly how Kalil is doing when he lines up against guys like Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson. I suspect Ron Rivera will have both players rotate at the right defensive end position, giving Kalil a more varied look at the defense. If Kalil can hold up against Peppers, it will go a long way in calming the nerves of anyone concerned for Cam Newton’s safety.
What matchups are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment and let me know.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.