Cam Newton’s Ankle is Finally Healthy
Through the first part of the season, Cam Newton has not looked like the Cam Newton fans have come to know. During the offseason, Newton had ankle surgery and the recovery from it seemed to carry over into the regular season.
This week, Newton looked to be back running the ball 17 times for 107 yards and one rushing touchdown. The Panthers’ rushing attack has been an issue all season due to injuries at running back but Newton took it upon himself to fix this. The Panthers quarterback had the team’s first 100-yard rushing game of the season.
Greg Olsen is Not Healthy
As Newton looks to be recovered from an ankle problem, Greg Olsen looks to be struggling with one of his own. The Panthers tight end hurt the ankle against Chicago and missed a lot of practice time this week because of it.
He still had a strong game against the Bengals with six receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown but it was clear he was hurting during the game. Olsen did not seem to have the speed or break away ability and seemed to favor that ankle at times.
The fact that he was able to deal with the injury and be a major contributor, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards, made a huge difference in this game.
The Panthers’ Offensive Line is Coming Together
After a rocky start to the season, the Panthers’ offensive line had their second consecutive strong game. After giving up two sacks last week against Chicago, the Panthers front five didn’t give up a single sack to the Bengals.
The improved play isn’t all their doing though as now that Newton is healthy again he is more mobile and is much more elusive. This offensive line is not by any means one of the best in the league but as long as Newton can continue to scramble; these five are good enough to get the job done.
Charles Johnson looks to be back
For the second straight week, defensive end Charles Johnson made his presence known. He finished the day with three tackles, two for losses, one sack and one QB hit. He now has two sacks the past two games, after zero in the first four.
This defense has a much different look to it when Johnson is regularly making plays and able to get to the quarterback. If Johnson continues to play this way, opposing offenses are going to have to pay more attention to the defensive end. This should create favorable matchups for the other plays along the defensive line.
Defense is a work in progress
In three of the last four games, the Panthers have given up 37 or more points to opposing teams. Luckily for them, this game ended up in a tie unlike the other two games that were losses. The Panthers can’t expect to win many games if their defense is giving up 35+ points a game.
The biggest issue for this defense has been the fact they are giving up way too many big plays. Against the Steelers, they gave up two runs of 50+ yards while against the Ravens they gave up a 61-yard touchdown to Steve Smith Sr.
This week against the Bengals, the Panthers allowed Gio Bernard to break off an 89-yard run for a touchdown in the first half. In the second half it was special teams that gave up a kick return to Adam Jones that he took all the way to three-yard line. The Panthers have to find a way to eliminate these types of lapses, especially next week with their matchup against Green Bay.