Behind Enemy Lines -- Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are a team looking for progress from a disappointing outing in 2006. After a hard-fought contest against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, it's been a tall task for Carolina to get back to contention in the playoffs. This is a make or break season for their quarterback Jake Delhomme. Panther insider Brad Thomas answered six questions about the team and shared a prediction.

Behind Enemy Lines: Carolina Panthers
Guest Analyst: Brad Thomas PanthersInsider.com

This week we preview the Patriots matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina insider Brad Thomas shares some insights on what
the Panthers have done to address certain key situations, and how their team has looked so far in 2007.

1) Is Jake Delhomme the guy in 2007 or is he on a short leash? If he struggles will David Carr get a shot?

Brad Thomas: The Panthers are very good at disguising their intentions. This team is Delhomme's team, however, everyone thought this team was Rodney Peete's team in 2003 as well. Short leash, no, but if this team goes on a losing skid due to Delhomme's play, they won't hesitate to put Carr in.

2) What major improvements have the Panthers made to the 2007 version of their team?

BT: They added Ryan Kalil via the draft and a few starters returned from season-ending injuries, both which were sustained in the first game last season. Their offensive line depth is perhaps the best at any point in team history.

3) The Panthers picked up Jeff Davidson the offensive coordinator from the Browns. Davidson is considered a talented rising star in coaching circles. What has he done to breath new life into the Panthers offense? And what key changes do you think he will roll out during the season?

BT: The biggest change was changing the offensive scheme to better fit the personnel. The previous OC, Dan Henning, would not adapt to the players he had. The result has been met with enthusiasm, however, it's still too early to tell if it will yield better results. I think overall, Davidson will adapt to adversity throughout the season, which will be a welcomed change in Carolina from the previous coordinator.

4) Center Ryan Kalil was highly touted offensive lineman coming out of USC, will he get an opportunity to compete for a starting role as a rookie?

BT: Kalil is in the mix now. He got a shot last week to start at C, and this week he'll have a shot at guard.

5) Biggest challenge for the Panthers to overcome to get to the playoffs?

BT: Getting two starting safeties. Veteran Mike Minter retired early during training camp, and the Panthers did little to fortify the position in the offseason.

6) Wide receiver Steve Smith has had an unbelievable run as a top wideout in the league the past few years managing over 1000 yards receiving in three of his last four seasons. Smith has had some injury concerns in the past. Is he healthy now, and what you expect to see out of him in 2007?

BT: Smith is healthy, and the Panthers' best offensive weapon. We expect him to continue this role this season.

Prediction for the Season?

BT: 9-7, Wild Card.

Curiosity question: Top 3 teams in the NFL?

BT: Colts, Chargers and Pats


Brad Thomas is the Editor of Panthers Insider. If you have a question for Brad, you can reach him here

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