The Carolina Panthers will meet the Philadelphia Eagles tonight in the second preseason game of 2013. It's an opportunity to see whether the offense can improve, the offensive line's first chance to see a 3-4 defense, and whether Josh Norman can keep up his high level of play. I sat down with Jimmy Kempski, one of the managers of Bleeding Green Nation to ask him about the game, and the Eagles' season as a whole.
Cat Scratch Reader: It looks like Chip Kelly is wasting no time installing his offense. Do you expect Kelly to keep the breakneck pace he showed against the Patriots in this week's game?
Bleeding Green Nation: Yeah, I think they'll continue to run their hurry up. When they got into their fastest gear last week they averaged around 13-14 seconds from whistle to being set on the next play,and those were on plays where they were gaining chunks of yardage. It'll be a nice test for the Panthers D, as more teams are looking to utilize a faster pace.
It will be really fun to watch how Carolina's defensive line deals with speed. Conditioning will be a prime concern, and for some of these players they haven't seen this kind of play calling since college.
CSR: Who's one player on the Eagles that Panthers fans might not know right now, but they'll remember his name Friday morning?
BGN: Damaris Johnson, maybe. He was an undrafted rookie out of Tulsa last year, but he looks like he could be a big contributor this year, both in the return game and as a shifty slot receiver.
Carolina's special teams coverage left a lot to be desired last week. Here's hoping we still don't know who Johnson is on Friday!
CSR: How long do you expect Matt Barkley to play on Thursday?
BGN: He had 37 snaps Week 1, which is a lot. I would suspect he'll get another healthy dose this week, and then they'll let Vick and Foles play more in the dress rehearsal Week 3.
CSR: One thing our teams share is offensive line struggles. How has Kelly helped rebuild the protection since arriving in Philadelphia?
BGN: The Eagles' OL has a chance to be special this year, if healthy. Last year they lost Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, and Todd Herremans to season ending injuries. Those guys were all goners by the time the Eagles played the Panthers in 2012. All three players will be back, plus Evan Mathis and first round pick Lane Johnson, who has looked fantastic so far.
It's interesting to see a team's different approach to a similar problem. They had injuries, and quickly addressed them through the draft -- just in case. Now a weakness is a strength. I'm sure gifting the Eagles Evan Mathis hasn't hurt either.
CSR: If there was one player you could take from the Panthers, and put on the Eagles roster who would it be, and why?
BGN: Easy. Cam Newton. He plays the most important position in sports, he's talented as hell, and the Eagles are unsettled at QB.
I'll admit, I teed this one up for Jimmy, and he obliged. It's nice to see other teams respect the player who is so often misunderstood by the majority of NFL fans.