Bruce Irvin has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Rams. This has opened up an unexpected opportunity for Brian Burns to make his first NFL start. Also, expect additional reps from 2nd year edge rusher Marquis Haynes who is coming off an impressive preseason, where he showed an improved ability to get to the quarterback with 4 sacks. A fast start to the season will give these two all the confidence needed to help this Carolina defense return to the top ranks of the NFL.
Between these young edge rushers and the quarterback is 6-8 300 pound right tackle Rob Havenstein, who was a 2015 2nd round pick. He should create quite the challenge for the Panthers young edge rushers seeing as though he has all the tools to be a premiere right tackle in the NFL. Glimpses of such were displayed during his rookie season where he did not allow a sack all season.
On the left side you are looking at a 12 year veteran, 4x pro bowl, and 2x all pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth. He turns 38 this December but is STILL regarded as one of the best left tackles in the league. He is the leader of that unit and will also provide a good test for young edge rushers.
It will be interesting to see how Burns and Haynes fair against the talented tackles of the Rams.
Who could be more excited than Gerald Mccoy right now? After a long offseason of seeing a new staff brought in to his old home and being released by that same staff, to signing to his division rival, at the same time seeing his old team just give his old number away, Panther Nation can be more than certain that Gerald Mccoy is itching to prove the doubters wrong. His first opportunity is Sunday in BOA.
One could argue that Kawaan Short should be just as amped. For the first time ever, he gets to play alongside a perennial pro bowler and all pro, which should allow to exploit one on one opportunities, which he tends to dominate. Based on what we have seen thus far the two pro bowl interior defensive linemen have built quite the rapport and plan to be a wrecking force together for the 2019 season and hopefully the foreseeable future.
That leaves Dontari Poe. He was previously one of the most dominating nose tackles in the league. After a disappointing 2018 season, it is fair to say that he has plenty to prove. This may be the most talented group of men he has played with so making his fair share of impact plays seems to be attainable. He will have a great opportunity come Sunday when facing off against first year starter at center, Brian Allen. Allen has never started an NFL game so expect Poe to establish himself right away, and set the tone for four quarters.
Two players along the Panther front have embodied what it means to be consistent, and we should expect nothing less from them in Week 1. Mario Addison and Kyle Love have played their roles perfectly to the point where they don’t surprise anyone. They give you the same effort and production every year. Addison has been a constant headache for quarterbacks while registering at least 9 sacks each of the last three seasons. Kyle Love is the unsung hero of the d line. While he has never established a long term lucrative contract, he showed that he was valuable enough for the Panthers to reach out to him for another season, even when it seemed as if he’d be sitting on the free agent shelf all summer. In 2018 he made plenty of impact plays that rarely showed up on the stat sheet and that has always been his style. We should expect nothing less moving forward.
It is no secret that the Panthers are facing the league’s most dominant player Aaron Donald. Accompanied with a couple established pass rushers in Clay Matthews and Donte Fowler, it will be interesting to see if the Panthers offensive line can collectively put together an inspiring performance. The biggest question revolves around Matt Paradis and Daryl Williams. Are they truly healthy? Aaron Donald and Donte Fowler are two of the most athletic players at their respective positions, so we will know early and often if Paradis and Williams are healthy enough to answer the bill. Blocking Donald will require some assistance more often than not, however we still will get a good gauge as to how effective Paradis can be. Hopefully, he has regained the mobility that allowed him to be one of the top centers in the league in Denver. Williams and Taylor Moton have struggled in the pre season. The speed and experience that both Fowler and Matthews bring to the table should be a good test for our Tackles.
These are the things that should intrigue Panther fans that pay close attention to the trenches. There are some obvious expectations, as well as some key matchups to follow. Catch up with me next week for a segment covering these matchups and together we can get a good idea of how Good this Panther offensive line can be.
-Keep Pounding -4MR Larry