One of the unexpected standouts for the Carolina Panthers against the Indianapolis Colts was safety Kurt Coleman. When the Panthers signed Coleman this offseason as a free agent, some thought of him as a quality addition to the depth at safety. That certainly wasn't his plan as Coleman has revitalized his career in Carolina.
Coleman earned the starting safety job out of training camp and thanks to his experience in playing in Sean McDermott's defense, when they were both in Philadelphia, has been a great addition to this secondary. Against the Colts, Coleman finished with eight tackles, two of which were for a loss, three passes defended as well as an interception in the fourth quarter.
At 5'11" and 200 pounds, Coleman has shown to be do-it-all type safety, one that can play up close to the line and disrupt run plays as well as drop back into coverage and force turnovers. This was on full display against the Colts and the team hopes to get a similar performance Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
Prior to this game, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was one of the players I had identified that needed to have a big game for this defense. The former first-round pick hasn't had a great season to date as he tries to work himself back into game shape after rehabbing a foot injury for most of the offseason and sitting out the entire training camp due to that foot.
On Monday night, Lotulelei looked like he was back to playing like he did his rookie season when he was a disruptive force in the middle of the field. Lotulelei finished the game with two tackles and Pro Football Focus credited him with five QB hurries, which was tied for first among defensive tackles in the NFL along with Kawann Short and Ndamukong Suh.
As long as Short keeps playing at the level he is, Lotulelei should get some winnable matchups because teams will focus their attention on his teammate. This could be a big opportunity for Lotulelei to have a strong second half of the year.
Ted Ginn Jr.
The veteran wide receiver had an awful game against the Colts as he continues to struggle with drops, something that almost costed the Panthers the game. On two seperate occassions, Ted Ginn Jr. beat the Colts defense deep and had the ball within reach to make the catch and couldn't bring it in. The worst came in overtime as they would have ended the game.
Ginn finished the game with only two receptions for 60 yards but was targeted 10 times, which is the second most on the team. When the team brought Ginn in as a free agent, many expected him to be the team's number three with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen in this offense.
That plan changed when Benjamin went down with his injury and Ginn was expected to step up and contribute. However, he continues to beat himself with these drops and hopefully can get better over the remainder of the 2015 season.
The Panthers have been incredibly lucky with their health along the offensive line before Week 8 but saw two starters miss a majority, if not all of the game against the Colts. The offense knew the loss of Ryan Kalil would be big but when Andrew Norwell suffered a leg injury on the fourth play of the game, the interior of the offensive line really struggled.
The surprise was the fact that the team decided to go with Chris Scott to replace Norwell instead of Amini Silatolu, who was the team's starting guard a season ago. Silatolu suffered an injury and was replaced by Norwell, who played very well and held the starting job.
Scott did struggle for most of the first half and the Panthers' run game really suffered finding any room in the middle of the field. The coaching staff didn't waste any time and at halftime replaced Scott with Silatolu. If Norwell is out for any amount of time, I would expect that Silatolu would be the guy to start rather than Scott.