Delhomme: "I think we can play better"

The Carolina Panthers are 4-2 coming off a bye week and for that they feel pretty thankful. Maybe even lucky. The Carolina players, almost to a man, say they haven't come close to putting together a good game in all three phases. And yet, they have still managed to win four games, including three in a row and the last two on the road.

It helps, perhaps, that the Panthers have had a pretty easy schedule thus far -- none of their previous six opponents have a winning record at this stage of the season and four of them have two wins or fewer.

"It's crazy that you still have a chance and you haven't played the kind of ball that you're used to," said defensive end Mike Rucker. "Being 4-2, we're fortunate. We've been in some dogfights.

"Having the positive momentum of knowing that our best hasn't been out there is something we need to strive for. That's the hardest thing to hit on all cylinders for 16 straight weeks. Hopefully this is the week it happens."

The number one problem the Panthers need to fix entering Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings is establishing a running game.

Stephen Davis has scored seven touchdowns this season, but is averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry. DeShaun Foster is better at 4.5 yards per carry and he should be back on the field this week after missing one game with a knee injury.

This would be the ideal week for the Panthers to get things turned around.

They face a Vikings defense that is 30th in the league against the run, allowing 142 yards per game on the ground and 4.6 yards per carry.

"Right now the only thing I care about is winning," Davis said.

Carolina's offense has been fairly one-dimensional, focused around Steve Smith, who is in the midst of an incredible season with 39 catches for 596 yards and seven touchdowns.

"He's a special player," said quarterback Jake Delhomme, who will be back under center come Sunday.

Delhomme said he doesn't anticipate any hangover from the hit he took two weeks ago against the Lions that sent him out of the game for the final drive. His big goal will be to cut down on his interceptions.

Delhomme has thrown eight picks this season, three of which have been returned for touchdowns.

"Four and two is a good start, but I think we can play better," Delhomme said. "I think I need to play better and we all need to play better. We're 4-2 and there is a lot of room for improvement. That's the exciting thing. We haven't really hit our stride yet. It's easy to say. You have to go out and do it. The last couple of years we have improved offensively as the season went on, so hopefully we can do it again."

SERIES HISTORY -- 6th meeting. Vikings lead series 3-2. The Panthers have won the last two meetings, the most recent coming on Sept. 22, 2002 when Chris Weinke led Carolina to a 21-14 victory in the season opener. Unfortunately for the Panthers that was as good as it got that season and they went on to lose their next 15 straight games, setting a single-season NFL record.

Panther Insider Top Stories