We grade the panthers over the first half of the season, (well, first 7 weeks anyway).

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Other than Steve Smith, there are few bright spots in the Panthers' passing game this season. Smith is in the midst of a huge season with 39 catches for 596 yards and seven scores. But Carolina's other three wide receivers combined have just 26 receptions for 324 yards and two scores. Ricky Proehl gave the team a big lift down the stretch against the Lions with four grabs for 41 yards on the winning drive, including the go-ahead touchdown. Jake Delhomme has made some outstanding throws this season and some terrible ones, too. In fact, he's thrown eight interceptions, three of which have been returned for touchdowns. Delhomme has 10 touchdown passes and an 83.4 quarterback rating. The Panthers are one Chris Weinke comeback away from being a mediocre 3-3.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Running back Stephen Davis has scored seven touchdowns this season, but has been limited to 3.1 yards per carry, the lowest mark of his career. DeShaun Foster is better at 4.5 yards per carry, but now has a knee injury. The Panthers have yet to find a running play they can hang their hat on, one they can use as their bread-and-butter play. The Panthers have been relying on the passing game to set up the run, which is not the way John Fox likes to game plan. Look for Nick Goings to get more involved in the offense in the coming weeks if Foster continues to be held out. The Panthers are 30th in the league in rushing yards per attempt.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- Cornerback Ken Lucas has been outstanding for the Panthers, but Carolina has struggled to maintain a consistent pass rush throughout the season, and Julius Peppers hasn't made his share of big plays. Carolina is giving up 242.8 yards per game through the air and nine passing touchdowns already this season, and they been victimized by mediocre offenses like Green Bay's and Arizona's. Cornerback Chris Gamble has been a major disappointment, while rookie first-round draft pick Thomas Davis has been slow to develop. Dan Morgan has been solid in the middle, but now must play with a shoulder injury the rest of the season.

RUN DEFENSE: A-minus -- The loss of Kris Jenkins hurt the Panthers early on, but Jordan Carstens has done an excellent job of filling in against the run. Carolina is third in the league against the run behind only Tampa Bay and San Diego, allowing just 77.7 yards per game. The Panthers have only allowed only one 100-yard game, that to Miami rookie Ronnie Brown. Outside linebacker Will Witherspoon started the season strong, but has not been the same since suffering a lateral collateral ligament sprain in his knee.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus -- The Panthers have only allowed one big play on special teams and John Kasay has been solid. Although he's missed his last three field goals, two of them from beyond 50 yards were blocked. Another miss was from 62 yards. Jason Baker seems to have one bad punt per game for Carolina.

COACHING: C-plus -- The Panthers shouldn't have lost to Miami or New Orleans, but you have to credit the staff with coming up with a big win against New England and holding on for tough wins against Detroit and Arizona. The Panthers have won three in a row and should go to 5-2 on the season when they meet Minnesota on Sunday. Then the schedule gets tougher. The Panthers need to find more creative ways to get Peppers involved on defense and another go-to weapon on offense.

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