Charlotte, NC – Defensive preview for Sunday game against the Green Bay Packers.
The first three weeks of the season are completed and are in the books, the Carolina Panthers' front four have should themselves to one of the top groups in the NFL. Every sack the Panthers have gotten as been from it starting front four. I think coach Fox has answer one of the major question, by getting better play out of this line. The play of Mike Rucker is one of the major reasons of the improved play this year. That says a lot considering he was their top lineman from last year. He has already posted 5 sacks on the season, and is coming off a huge performance last week against the Minnesota Vikings last week. It doesn't appear that Fox will make any changes his rotation. Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, Brenston Buckner and Rucker will be looking to get as much pressure on Brett Farve and Ahman Green, if he is healthy, as they possible can.
Green Bay's front line is hurting this week due to injuries. Gilbert Brown will be relied on to stop the run, but if Carolina run many counters, off tackles and sweeps, he will be limited. This group will also be looking to get pressure on Rodney Peete, but will have a strong task as Carolina's offensive line has looked very strong. LDE Aaron Kampman, DT Gilbert Brown, DT Cletidus Hunt, RDE Joe Johnson should be getting the starts.
This week Carolina's linebacking corps could take a major hit if MLB Dan Morgan isn't able to go on Sunday. He will be needed to help slow down Ahman Green in the running and passing game. Plus he has should that he is the leader of the defense. As of right now, he is listed as questionable for this game. Lester Towns will get plenty of playing time regardless is Morgan can go or not. Carolina's starting MLB last year, Lester shouldn't have any problems being able to fill in for Morgan, while doing a respectful job at it. Mark Fields, after recording the most tackles last week, well be looked upon to help fill an voids. Hannibal Naives will also need to have a good game to help contain Green.
With the run defense being what it is and with the defensive line facing major injuries, Green Bay's linebacker will have to have a very strong game to contain Carolina's running attack. Their starters will probably be: SLB Na'il Diggs, MLB Hardy Nickerson, and WLB Nate Wayne.
What was supposed to Carolina's weakest position has been able to hold it on so far this year. They also was able to hold one of the leagues best passing attacks last in Minnesota. The starts will be the normal group with, CB Terry Cousin, CB Reggie Howard, FS Deon Grant, and SS Mike Minter. Grant is coming off one of his best game in a Panthers uniform. He was able to pick off Dante Culpepper 2 times last week. Minter will also want to continue his 2 game streak of interceptions.
Green Bay will miss the SS Autuan Edwards, as he is one of the better run stopping strong safeties in the league. Matt Bowman will be expected to fill his shoes, and will want to make a good impression on the coaching staff. The other starters will be: CB Tyrone Williams, CB Mike McKenzie, and FS Darren Sharper. Sharper will be called upon to step up his game as only he can and help out on the balls thrown deep.