Behind Enemy Lines — Carolina

In the third of a four-part series leading up to training camp, Editor Matthew Postins and's Brad Thomas discuss provide analysis for 10 pertinent questions facing each team in the NFC South. Today, it's the Carolina Panthers. Part 2 of this article will appear on Thursday.

Q: The Panthers brought in QB David Carr to be Jake Delhomme's backup. Do you believe Carr will end up replacing Delhomme before the end of the 2007-08 season?

MP: No. I think new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson is going to put Delhomme in a position to succeed. Already this offseason he's installed more screen plays to take advantage of DeAngelo Williams, put Steve Smith in motion more to confuse defenses and put Delhomme on track to stop locking in on just Smith. His teammates put their trust in Delhomme, and Carr doesn't have near his track record.

BT: I think it's possible. John Fox knows that the window is closing for this core unit, and another .500 or worse season will probably mark his end in Carolina. If the Panthers are out of the playoff hunt, Carr will most definitely see the field.

Q: DeAngelo Williams showed last season that he could be a feature back, do you think he will supplant DeShaun Foster as the feature back for the Panthers?

MP: Most definitely. He's undersized at 5-9, 216, but he can run inside and out, has explosive speed and provides a spark that Foster doesn't seem to give the offense. Foster is way too injury prone to last the whole season. Once the Panthers see how the offense responds with Williams behind Delhomme instead of Foster, that'll be all she wrote.

BT: Most Panther fans believe that Williams has more potential than Foster does at this point. I think Williams will end up getting the bulk of the carries because he's a better receiver and is more elusive than Foster.

Q: The Panthers made no move in either free agency or during the draft to bring in a starting caliber safety, do you think they will stand pat with what they have now, and do you think that will be a liability?

MP: Hmmm, sounds just like the Bucs. But that's for another Q&A. I've always liked Mike Minter as a player, but one must consider his age -- 33 -- and realize that his retirement is imminent (after this season). Deke Cooper will start on the strong side, with Nate Salley considered the backup at both positions. This position is woefully thin. One injury to Minter and the Panthers will be in serious trouble.

BT: The word out of Bank of America Stadium is that Nate Salley is at the top of the depth chart. That is still hard to believe, given the fact that he has virtually no experience and wasn't exactly a hot commodity coming out of Ohio State last year. Deke Cooper represents the best bet on the roster right now, but keep an eye out for rookie C.J. Wilson out of Baylor. He's a big ballhawking cornerback that will be moved to free safety. If Wilson can make some plays and pick up the system quickly, he has a realistic shot at moving up the depth chart quickly.

Q: Will new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's scheme be more effective or less effective than former coordinator Dan Henning's?

MP: Depends on how much you like zone blocking schemes, which is what the Panthers are going to. The linemen are considered athletic enough to pull it off. Most zone blocking schemes lend themselves to the run, so I would expect better production there. The pass all depends on how Delhomme takes to Davidson's newer wrinkles and the health of Smith. Davidson is a Charlie Weis disciple, which means a balanced run attack and ball distribution in the passing game. I think they'll fare a bit better under Davidson.

BT: We'll finally see if the sputtering of the offense was because of Henning or Delhomme last season. Delhomme would lock onto Steve Smith and try to force it to him no matter what… however, when that's the only option, what else is he supposed to do? Davidson's offense, in theory, is a breath of fresh air… it remains to be seen if they have the players to execute it effectively.

Q: Will MLB Dan Morgan make it through the season healthy?

MP: No. He's never started 16 games in a season. He won?t start now.

BT: No. It may not be a concussion, but playing to "not have a concussion" will probably cause him to have some sort of other injury. Hey, it's Dan Morgan we're talking about.

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