Are you ready for some football? More than ready, right. That’s what the players are thinking. Now instead of hitting on each other, they get to bump helmets with another team. The Panthers open the exhibition season in Baltimore against the Ravens. Honestly, play against non teammates comes just in time. The team will limp into Baltimore minus 11 players due to injury, including CB Chris Gamble, RB Jonathan Stewart and WR Steve Smith. Actually, Stewart and Smith have not participated in any camp sessions this Summer.
OK, enough about what you will not see, what about what you will see. QB Matt Moore will start the game and has taken on the role with pride and professionalism. He will start and play most of, if not the entire first quarter. Leadership of this young team has been a positive but still to work on will be making plays down the field and moving the chains. From the looks of the last practice, rookie Jimmy Clausen would be next to run the show. WR Armanti Edwards will have his opportunity on special teams by running back kickoffs and punt returns. As far as WR is concerned, Edwards still needs to work on his hands and catching the ball. He has the speed to get open, coordinating his foot speed with hand coordination is the next step.
DE Everett Brown, last seasons top pick, needs to rush the passer and produce sacks. With the Panthers in the Nickel package, Brown will get to show off. Stopping the show on the other side of the ball protecting “The Blind Side” will be Ravens Michael Oher. SS Sherrod Martin will get his first start, replacing injured Chris Harris. Martin had very good moments last year, basically when given the opportunity to play, he shined. Now the expectations are high and he has not responded in camp. He has good speed but needs the reps and experience beginning in Baltimore.
Two minute drill: If you like the rushing game, this game is for you. The Panthers finished 3rd in the NFL in rushing last season while Ravens RB Ray Rice rushed for 1,339 yards and made the Pro Bowl. Baltimore has a 3-1 record against Charlotte in preseason games. Charlotte has a 3-0 record against Baltimore in the regular season. The two teams meet again November 21st in Charlotte.
About the Author
Written by Chris Jones
Resident of Charlotte, NC and avid sports fan from little league to professional to extreme. Bachelors degree in broadcasting with a minor in physical education. Associated with sports most of professional career by freelancing in college then moving on to work for ESPN and ABC Sports for 17 years. When not attending, watching or playing sports, spare time spent as a basketball referee in North Carolina.