Panthers HC Ron Rivera says preseason game #3 against the Bengals will be game planned very close to what they plan to run in the regular season. I'm going to piggyback off of Ron Green Jr's piece on 5 Panther vs. Bengals story lines and add a little more detail.
1. How will Cam Newton look?
Specifically, does he set his feet before he throws? Is he throwing off his back foot? Let's count the errant passes and hope it doesn't go higher than three. Conversely if Newton is setting and stepping into his passes in a timely fashion then we should be ecstatic for he is showing good progression. A second Newton detail is how he handles the pass rush. He hasn't exactly looked comfortable in the pocket so far but hasn't gotten rattled either...but its bound to happen. Truth is with Bengals DE Carlos Dunlop likely to not play I don;t expect them to be able to mount much of a pass rush.
2. Can Panthers convert a 3rd down?
Against the Giants the Panthers only needed to convert one 3rd down to score their two TDs. The key so far for the Panthers is to not need 3rd down!. Easier said than done of course. I'm hoping to see the Panthers continue their pressure down field combined with some effective play-action. If the Panthers can create 2nd and 3rd and short and Newton can sell the play action they should move the ball.
More after the jump....
3. Will the defense be sharper?
Sharper referring to the point of attack, the defensive line. The Dolphins pushed this line around last week so let's see if they can pick themselves back up, on the road no less. Rookie QB Andy Dalton does not scare me though WR AJ Green could get behind this defense with a double move.
4. Will Armanti Edwards play in the wildcat?
I speculated on this in a Q&A post I did with Josh over at Cincy Jungle (to be posted Thursday). Edwards might not run the WC against the Bengals but I do expect a reverse or some trickery involving Edwards throwing the ball down field. I love the idea of giving opposing DC's something like this to worry about week to week.
5. What if Derk Anderson wins the game?
It would mean very little in my book. We have plenty of tape on Anderson and what he brings to the table. Better to take our lumps with Newton and hope for a short learning curve.It's going to be a luxury having the experience Anderson brings in reserve but I would only play him if necessary at this point.
6. Bonus Story line: Will the #2 WR please stand up?
We've got a three way competition between Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards and Legedu Naanee with Edwards taking the early lead but then plateauing last week. LaFell brings the full package of size and skills but lacks consistency. Naanee has the experience edge on paper but as of yet has not shown it on the field. Any of this trifecta could cement their spot with a nice performance.