This is going to be a tough test for the Carolina Panthers’ newest starting left tackle, Michael Oher. The Panthers signed him in the offseason and hope he can revive his career protecting Cam Newton’s blindside. Unfortunately for Oher, he is going to have to try and stop one of the best pass rushing defenses in the game today, led by defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams.
After watching Byron Bell try and play left tackle, this is one of the top concerns for Panthers’ fans entering this year. There wasn’t many options in free agency and the team hopes Oher, after spending the past two seasons at right tackle, can transition back to left tackle. This is not something Oher is going to be able to ease into going up against these Bills’ pass rushers. A strong performance in limited action Friday night will go a long way to build the confidence in the idea of Oher at left tackle.
There may not be a more improved player in training camp than Corey Brown, the receiver formerly known as Philly Brown. The undrafted wide receiver out of Ohio State saw his role increase as the season went on and brought speed to this offense.
The Panthers brought in a number of talented wide receivers this offseason and the thought was that Brown might get lost in the shuffle. Well he certainly has risen to the occasion and is entering the game against the Bills as the starting wide receiver opposite Kelvin Benjamin.
This could be a great chance for him to showcase his improvement with Benjamin most likely going up against the Bills’ shutdown corner Stephon Gilmore. The other cornerback position is much more unsettled and Brown will be matched up with second round rookie Ronald Darby. It would not be a surprise to see the Panthers call at least one deep ball to Brown early in the game.
The Panthers starting quarterback is going to have limited action Friday night but when he is in, all eyes are going to be on him for a multiple of reasons. Of course there is going to be questions about if Newton, or the coaching staff, is going to change his style of play and limit his running opportunities. I personally don’t believe that to be the case because his scrambling abilities is one of the reasons that Newton is so dangerous.
The reason I will be watching Newton is to see if his accuracy has improved from a season ago. The fact that the Panthers quarterback has not had to worry about rehab or recover from any injuries has given him the opportunity to work on his game. The biggest knock on Newton has always been the fact that he is not an accurate quarterback and this has been the focus for him.
The Bills defense ranked third in the NFL in pass defense giving up only 205.8 yards per game. They usually do not give opposing quarterbacks big windows to make throws. It is going to be important for Newton to be accurate with his passes and put it only where his receivers can catch it.
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