KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers
SERIES: 18th meeting. Panthers lead series, 10-7. Carolina is 5-3 overall at the Edward Jones Dome. The Panthers have dominated the Rams of late, winning the last three, including a 29-23 double overtime victory in the 2003 NFC divisional playoffs. Last November, the Panthers whipped the Rams 15-0 at Bank of America Stadium as the Panthers ran for a franchise-record 242 yards and sacked Bulger seven times.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Panthers rushed for a franchise-record 242 yards in last season's meeting, and that was with a patchwork offensive line. Carolina is healthier up front and features the tandem of RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. The pressure is on rookie DT Adam Carriker to help solidify a Rams front seven that was terrible against the run in '06. ... The interior of the Rams' offensive line -- C Brett Romberg and OGs Richie Incognito and Mark Setterstrom -- have a combined 25 career starts, all coming last season. There's no time to ease into the season working against the Panthers' massive DTs Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu. The Rams need the line to create a push for RB Steven Jackson, or QB Marc Bulger will have a difficult time setting up the downfield pass against the Panthers' vulnerable secondary.
KEY INJURIES: Panthers: S Nate Salley (knee) is not expected to play, meaning Deke Cooper will start. Rams: Incognito (ankle) would be replaced by Milford Brown or Claude Terrell if he can't go; WR Drew Bennett (quad) is expected to play.
FAST FACTS: Panthers WR Steve Smith has averaged 126.5 receiving yards and a touchdown in the past two meetings. ... Bulger has a 98.5 passer rating with 61 TDs and 27 INTs in 32 career starts at home.
--CB Chris Gamble practiced on a limited basis Thursday after turning his ankle the previous day in practice. The team doesn't have to put out an injury report until Friday. However, the Panthers really need Gamble this week, especially going up against the Rams offense that features Torry Holt. Last year the Panthers shut out the Rams 15-0.
--QB Jake Delhomme said he's ready to start Sunday against the Rams. Delhomme has not been limited in practice, according to the injury report. He returned to practice after experiencing some soreness in his side prior to the final preseason game.
--RB DeAngelo Williams figures to be a big part of the game plan Sunday as the Panthers look to get their best weapons on the field. The Panthers ran for a franchise-record 242 yards last year against the Rams and Williams had 114 of those.
--DE Stanley McClover (thigh) returned to practice on Thursday and practiced in full. He expects to play on Sunday against the Rams.
--LS Jason Kyle will be ready to play Sunday.
--SS Nate Salley did not practice again Thursday and it looks like he's at least a week away from returning to the field.
--WR Steve Smith is expecting big things on offense this week. Said Smith: "The game may not go as hoped, but there will be a lot of new things that you will see that haven't been done around here in the seven years I've been here and probably since the era of Steve Beuerlein."
--RG Richie Incognito again did very little in practice Thursday, but it is hoped he is able to work Friday and be available for Sunday's game against Carolina. Incognito has been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain Aug. 18 against San Diego.
--OG Milford Brown could start against Carolina Sunday at right guard if Richie Incognito is unable to play because of a high ankle sprain.
--OG Claude Terrell could start against Carolina Sunday at right guard if Richie Incognito is unable to play because of a high ankle sprain.
--WR Drew Bennett (thigh) did some work in practice Thursday, and is expected to play Sunday against Carolina. If active, Bennett would also be the emergency quarterback with the Rams carrying only two on the active roster.
--WR Marques Hagans could be active Sunday if Drew Bennett is unable to play because of a thigh injury. Ion that event, Hagans would also be the emergency quarterback with the Rams carrying only two on the active roster.