Though it has yet to be confirmed via Panthers.com TE Ben Hartsock is being reported as a scratch for Monday night.
Injury Report: The Panthers will be without two starters and a key backup Monday against the Patriots. Outside linebacker Chase Blackburn (foot) and right guard Chris Scott (knee) and backup tight end Ben Hartsock (knee) are out after missing practice all week.
Hartsock may be listed as a back-up but he is a starter in the running game and one of the best blocking TEs in the league. If he is out that could impact our running game. Hence my next man up is:
TE/HB Richie Brockel
Brockel may not be the blocker Hartsock is but he has better hands so I'm thinking OC Mike Shula throws a pass or two to Brockel to add a wrinkle to the offense.
Further on the injury front, RB Jonathan Stewart is feeling real good, as in 110%:
Carolina Panthers Notes: Stewart, Edwards return to form | Beach Carolina Magazine
"I’m feeling good," Stewart said. "After the first week back, the muscle memory came back pretty quick. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, so it didn’t take long to come back. "And a game like last week – a hard-fought game where you definitely had to bring you’re ‘A’ game for four quarters – really helps."
I'm looking for J-Stew to have no rust to shake off this week as he gashes the Patriots.
One rookie who has come a long way is LB AJ Klein, who gets his second start Monday Night:
LB A.J. Klein will start again in the team's Week 11 game and got the praise of head coach Ron Rivera. "He's got good vision, drops well into coverage and plays laterally very nicely, so that part of it's good," Rivera said. "The thing I do like is he's a downhill, physical player."
I recall from the preseason Klein looking lost in coverage so a huge hat tip to our coaches for getting this kid mentally prepared to be the next man up.
So it looks like 'Riverboat Ron' is here to stay and you can thank his daughter.
But "Riverboat Ron" has, particularly with the help of Rivera's daughter. "I love it," Gross said of the nickname. "I've been calling him that. It's funny. He loves football and it's been hard for him going through his first two seasons and I'm as happy for him as I am for myself or anybody else. He works hard and all of the players respect him."
Five Keys for the New England Patriots Against the Carolina Panthers - Yahoo Sports
5. Handle the Panthers' pass rush. Obviously this is easier said than done, but the Patriots have really struggled against the better pressure defenses in the NFL. Carolina is tied with the Patriots, with 29 sacks this season. But they're able to generate most of that pressure without needing to blitz. Defensive end Charles Johnson leads the way with 8.5 sacks this season, but fellow end Greg Hardy isn't far behind with five. But three other Panthers have at least two sacks on the season, so Carolina has a variety of ways to disrupt the passing game.
Carolina Panthers pose running threat - Sports - The Boston Globe
"All those guys are good. Stewart and Williams both have real good vision and quickness. They’re shifty, they’re hard guys to tackle. They can run inside, they can run outside," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Tolbert is a downhill guy. He’s in there in a lot of short-yardage and goal-line situations. He gets some tough yards for them. Of course, Newton carries the ball. Between the three backs and the quarterback, a wealth of ball carriers, probably more than — I can’t think of another team that has that much depth at that running position plus a quarterback who runs. "They run the ball a lot. They run it well. They all handle it, they’re all effective. There’s always a fresh guy in there, and they always run hard."
New England Patriots: Run Defense Will Key A Patriots Victory
In order for New England to win this football game, they must slow down the Panthers 10th ranked running attack. If they allow Carolina to control the clock, and slowly move up and down the field, then they will lose by a decent margin. There is no way that the Patriots offense will be able to score in rapid succession towards the end of the game versus a defense like the Panthers. If New England keeps it close, they will have a chance, which places a lot of pressure on the middle of the Pats defense.