Grading the Panthers' Defense in Week 2

Even without their star linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Carolina Panthers' defense put together another strong performance. Brandon Croce hands out his grades for the Panthers' defense in Week 2.

Defensive Ends

This was a game that the Carolina Panthers' defensive ends should have really made their presence known. The Texans were without their starting left tackle Duane Brown, which presented a great opportunity for Kony Ealy. The second year player though was once again quiet and even almost had two costly penalties on the Texans’ final drive that allowed the drive to continue.

However, Mario Addison continues his hot streak with two QB hits after registering two sacks against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Addison is a smaller, speed rusher so it would be surprising to see him surpass Ealy on the depth chart but right now Addison is playing at a higher level.

Grade: C

 

Defensive Tackles

The Panthers once again were without starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who was inactive for today’s game. However, the other four tackles on the roster played well and helped control the middle of the line.

The Panthers were able to hold the Texans’ running backs to an average of only 2.7 yards per carry and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards registered the only sack for the Panthers in Week 2. The depth of this position has always been their strength and when Lotulelei is able to return, this group will only be better.

Grade: A-

 

Linebackers

The Panthers were without their star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who missed his first career NFL game, but that doesn’t mean this group was short on plays. His replacement, A.J. Klein, finished the game with four tackles as well as an interception in the second half. That turnover set the Panthers offense up for Newton’s second touchdown pass of the day.

This group though was led by the play of Thomas Davis, who was flying all over the field and led the Panthers in tackles with nine. He was joined for most of the day on the field by first-round rookie Shaq Thompson, who saw the most playing time in Week 2 of his career. The expectation is that Kuechly will be back next week but if he isn’t this is still a linebacker group that can get the job done.

Grade: A-

 

Secondary

The Panthers may regret not signing cornerback Josh Norman to a contract extension prior to the season, who once again had a very strong game. After an interception returned for a touchdown, as well as a forced fumble and recovery against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Norman had five tackles with two passes defended. One of those tackles came early in the first half when he blew up a screen play before it could even get started.

The Panthers cornerbacks were constantly getting their hands on passes as Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere each registered a pass defended against the Texans. This group will need to have a strong performance as they will be facing off against one of the better quarterbacks in the league next week in Drew Brees.

The new duo of Kurt Coleman and Roman Harper continues to get the job done. The two combined for 17 tackles and finished second and third on the Panthers in tackles today. This is a veteran group that has helped solidify the back of this defense.

Grade: A-

Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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