The second year wide receiver entered this season with a great opportunity in front of him. The Carolina Panthers had lost their top wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, for the season during training camp and were looking for a player to step up. Eventually, Ted Ginn Jr. filled the void along with Greg Olsen and Philly Brown fell in the depth chart.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, Brown showed exactly what kind of potential he has in this league with an 87-yard touchdown pass where he caught the pass, broke a tackle and won the foot race to the end zone. Brown had his first 100-yard game with four receptions for 113 receiving yards.
He has actually seen his role in this offense expand during the postseason, averaging three receptions, six targets and 67.5 receiving yards per game. This is above his regular season averages of 2.2 receptions per game, 3.9 targets and 31.9 receiving yards.
According to Sporting Charts, the Denver Broncos were one of the better teams in the league limiting the opposition big play with only 26 given up all season. A strong game from Brown will help open up the Panthers' offense but it certainly won't be easy against the Broncos' defense.
Another player who had high expectations entering this year was Tre Boston. As a rookie last year, he was one of the key additions to the starting line-up that helped the team finish strong and win a playoff game. The thought process was that he would remain the starter this year but free agent Kurt Coleman passed him on the depth chart for that spot.
He did get some playing time this year but not obviously as much as expected. The time he has been on the field, especially this postseason, he has made a serious impact. Boston saw extended playing time against the Arizona Cardinals when Roman Harper suffered an eye injury in the second quarter. He had two key plays that helped the Panthers run away from the Cardinals with a fumble recovery as well as an interception.
The Panthers are expecting to have their starting safety back next Sunday for the Super Bowl however Boston should see some time against Peyton Manning and this Broncos' offense.
Defensive end Charles Johnson is another player who has had a disappointing regular season but has responded in the playoffs with two strong games. The veteran missed eight weeks in the middle of the season when he was placed on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury.
He had one of the worst regular seasons of his career with only one sack, which is the lowest total since 2007, a year that he only played in three games.
The past two games though, Johnson has done a much better job getting to the quarterback. He has a sack in each of the past two games and it shouldn't be a considered a coincidence that Johnson's increase has helped the entire team get pressure on the opposing quarterback.
As a team, the Panthers have eight sacks this postseason however Peyton Manning is one of the best at avoiding sacks, even though he lacks scrambling ability. This is going to be a key storyline during the Super Bowl about whether the Panthers can get to Manning.