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The Carolina Panthers have endured two tough tests in the beginning weeks of their 2018 campaign. While the Panthers’ offense was able to do just enough to keep the team afloat Julius Peppers Jersey , Carolina fell to the Falcons 31-24 for their first loss of the season. The Panthers’ offense is still adjusting to life after Greg Olsen’s foot injury. Despite the loss, Cam Newton looked solid with a 71.1% pass completion and was able to test things out as he looks for a new safety target.Things won’t get any easier for the Panthers as they take on an undefeated (2-0) Bengals team. The Bengals are coming off a 34-23 win over the Ravens. The Bengals have tallied a total of 68 points in their first games of the season—the second highest point total after the first two games of a season in team history. The Bengals also have a defense to compliment their offense. Their defense may be young, but they’re able to create turnovers in critical moments. Here are the four keys for the Panthers’ offense to defeat the Bengals’ defense:Take Pressure off Newton: It’s tiresome to say, but the injuries on the offensive line is still a huge factor to how the offense is playing. So far, the offensive line has lacked in keeping Newton protected. In a matter of two games, Newton has already been sacked a total of five times (although two of those sacks can be attributed to other factors). The Bengals defense has tallied six sacks DJ Moore Color Rush Jersey , including 4 in their last match-up against the Ravens. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best in his position. He’s quick at getting to the quarterback, totaling nine tackles and three sacks so far. It’s critical to keep Newton away from one of the most disruptive interior defenders in the league. Carlos Dunlap will be another force to be reckoned with. Between he and Atkins, they have combined for nine quarterback hits so far. Prevent Turnovers: The Bengals have a young defense, but they play like veterans. Cincinnati is tied for No. 2 in the league in turnover margin. They have forced five turnovers—including a scoop and score fumble recovery touchdown that won the game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. Of those five turnovers, four of them have resulted in setting up points for the Bengals.Although the Panthers have been fairly good at not turning over the ball (one fumble, one interception) James Color Rush Bradberry Jersey , it’ll be key to not allow any mishaps against a team that’s able to capitalize on turnovers.Key in on Christian McCaffrey: Without Olsen, it was clear that McCaffrey was Newton’s safety net against the Falcons. McCaffrey led the team with 14 catches and 102 yards. With defenders like Atkins, Dunlap, and Jordan Evans, a run game may not be realistic. But the Panthers can utilize McCaffrey in quick passes to keep the momentum going. Get a pass game going: The Bengals’ defense has allowed 836 total offensive yards—695 of those coming through the air. The Panthers’ receiving corps hasn’t been the most efficient on catching passes, but this is the week to get a pass game going. Last week Ian Thomas Jersey , D.J. Moore scored his first touchdown— a 51-yard catch and run that showed off his amazing skills in space—on his first NFL reception against the Falcons.Devin Funchess was strong in Olsen’s absence bringing in seven of nine targets for 77 yards. The potential for a strong passing game is there. Ultimately, this game will come down to Panthers being able to control ball. The Bengals will come fast and hard. It’s key to give Newton time in the pocket and limit the turnovers. Can some of 2018’s roster gaps be filled by guys already on the Panthers roster?" />Skip to main contentclockmenumore-arrownoyesHorizontal - WhiteCat Scratch Readera Carolina Panthers communityLog In or Sign UpLog InSign UpFanpostsFanshotsSectionsAboutPanthersOddsShopStu bHubMoreAll 322 blogs on Horizontal - WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Keep Sounding PodcastPanthers 2019 NFL DraftCSR Film RoomWhat if Matt Kalil, Ross Cockrell, and Da’Norris Searcy are healthy...and good?New,45commentsCan some of 2018’s roster gaps be filled by guys already on the Panthers roster?EDTShareTweetShareShareWhat if Matt Kalil, Ross Cockrell Curtis Samuel Color Rush Jersey , and Da’Norris Searcy are healthy...and good?Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsAs a Panthers fan still trying to spit out the nasty aftertaste of an undercooked 7-9 season served up cold on a dirty plate, it has become easy for me to be overly pessimistic when looking at Carolina’s roster gaps. After repeatedly deconstructing the Panthers current roster I’m starting to feel like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, chanting myself into insanity, “Defensive end...offensive line...safety...defensive end...offensive line...safety…”Yes, the Panthers definitely have gaps to fill in free agency and via the draft, but what if the solutions to some of 2018’s problems are already on the roster? Ladies and gentlemen Daeshon Hall Jersey , let’s look at the brighter side for a moment and consider the following question:What if left tackle Matt Kalil, cornerback Ross Cockrell, and safety Da’Norris Searcy are all healthy — and competent — in 2019? All three of these players were projected as Day 1 starters last year. Both Kalil (knee) and Cockrell (broken leg) got injured before the start of the regular season and spent the entire year on injured reserve. Searcy started the Panthers first two games before hitting injured reserve after sustaining two concussions. The trio carried a combined $11.7 million cap hit and the Panthers got basically no production from them.Assuming all three players are healthy when the 2019 season kicks off, we can then only hope they are competent. Not Pro Bowlers. Not great. Just competent. League average for veterans who are experienced but not yet old. Getting competent play from Matt Kalil protecting Cam Newton’s blindside would be a game-changer for the Panthers. Kalil’s $12.2 million cap hit next year will be tough to swallow, but as CSR’s Bradley Smith has expertly pointed out it doesn’t make financial sense to cut him in 2019. Based on Kalil’s history of uneven play and mounting injuries “competent” is probably the best we can hope for, and it’s not completely out of the question. Stranger things have happened. Ross Cockrell’s return should bolster the cornerback position. Pro Football Focus noted the former New York Giant had a career year in 2017 with an 81.6 grade and was the NFL’s 15th best corner in primary coverage. If he can return to somewhere near that level of play in 2019 Trai Turner Color Rush Jersey , Cockrell will be found money. A healthy Da’Norris Searcy could also help shore up the safety position. Searcy was a fourth round pick in 2011 and by his fourth NFL season (2014) had developed into a capable though unspectacular starter. Even if the Panthers bring in someone to start over Searcy in 2019 he should still be able to provide capable depth when called upon. All three of these guys — Kalil, Cockrell, and Searcy — have been at least competent, if not better, at different times throughout their careers. Getting them healthy and productive in 2019 would address some of the current roster gaps on the offensive line and secondary. The problem with the NFL though is as soon as these three guys get healthy, three more will go down. That’s football. Next man up. The reason for Panthers fans to be at least somewhat optimistic right now is the “next men up” may already be on the roster.
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