The Carolina Panthers will kick off their three-game preseason slate on Sunday in Indianapolis as they take on the Colts. Head coach Matt Rhule stated Friday that several starters will not play at all while others will see a few snaps. This will be a big game for guys who are fighting to make the roster and those who are in position battles.
Which rookies could stand out?
I have a few Carolina Panthers rookies I believe will stand out: RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Terrace Marshall Jr., and CB Jaycee Horn. These players are all guys that people are excited to see, and for good reason. I’m looking forward to seeing what Carolina has in wide receiver Shi Smith, defensive lineman Daviyon Nixon, tight end Tommy Tremble, and right tackle Brady Christensen.
P.J. Walker vs. Will Grier
P.J. Walker is going to get the first chance to impress as he’ll get the start against Indianapolis and I believe this QB2 battle will be interesting as usual. Walker has had a better camp but Grier has also made some strides, especially with his accuracy. This won’t be a battle that ends after Sunday. Sam Darnold may not play in next week’s preseason game either and will likely only play a quarter or so in the final preseason matchup. Who gets off to the better start against the Colts’ defense?
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line
On both sides of the ball, these teams want to see what they have in the trenches. The Panthers have made significant improvements to their defensive line since being one of, if not the worst in run defense a couple of seasons ago, the Colts on the other hand had to make significant improvements to their offensive line during/after Andrew Luck’s injuries and now have a top 3 Line in the league and this will be an excellent first impression for both team’s staff and fans. The Colts also have a strong defensive line to test what Carolina can handle upfront, as they are very capable of getting interior pressure and forcing mistakes. Indianapolis had the 2nd best run defense a year ago allowing just 90.5 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. If either one can have a big day on the ground against this unit, it’ll give them a leg up. The Colts will be resting many of their starters but their two-deep on defense is pretty stout.
This should be an effective first game for knowledge, an excellent way to watch even just a sample of what Carolina is going to bring to the table ahead of the season.