Run Game Dominance
With Jonathan Stewart in the lineup and a much improved offensive line, the Panthers need to impose their will on the Patriots first string defense. Last week this group looked pedestrian at best. The Panthers have enough talent on offense this season to grind out at least a few yards on every attempt, even if it is ugly and right up the gut of the Patriots defense. Line up our biggest guys against their biggest guys and lets see who gets moved.
Cam Newton Read and React
Cam Newton has never looked good in preseason, so I am not overly concerned here. But many of Cam's throws have been just a tad late or behind the receiver. Take last week's intercepted pass to Greg Olsen for example. The ball was out late and behind Olsen, even though Cam had more than adequate protection. The result was a pick 6. I would like to see an interception free game from Newton this evening with quicker more decisive reads.
Really excited about what we saw from Shaq Thompson last week. Thompson provides a physical skill set that will prove to be a huge headache for opposing offensive coordinators this year. Thompson has the speed and strength to cover nearly anyone on the field and the natural instincts to snuff out the run at the line of scrimmage. More Shaq, please.
Catch the Ball, Corey
Corey Brown has a dismal showing last week with his multiple drops including one in the end zone. While I am excited that Jarrett Boykin is really coming on strong, the Panthers need Brown as an additional deep threat. If Corey can put together a solid game tonight, catch everything thrown his way, and possibly tack on a touchdown... last week will be all but forgotten.
Get Aggressive, Stay Aggressive
The Panthers and Patriots do not like each other, and that is putting it mildly. Even though it is preseason, the Panthers do not want to be embarrassed by the Patriots on a national stage. I know some fans will play the "just no injuries" card, which is always a boring platitude. Of course no injuries. It is a given. But you know how you avoid injuries best? By staying aggressive and on the offensive. Players most frequently get injured when they are not in control of the action. Take Cam's rib injury from last year's Patriots game for example. Offensive line break down, Cam running for his life amidst a butt whooping. Result? Injury. Be in control. Stay aggressive. That is the best way to stay healthy.