CHARLOTTE — The Panthers are heading on a long trip off a short week.
Following its Monday Night Football appearance, Carolina (0-2) travels to take on the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) in a Week 3 matchup this Sunday at Lumen Field. It’s the Panthers’ first game outside of their division this season, as they started off the year against Atlanta and New Orleans.
Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. on CBS. Fans can check out more information on how to watch here.
Here are five things to watch for as you’re tuning in.
Dalton to start for an injured Young
Dalton has 162 NFL starts under his belt, and he has shown what the coaches wanted to see from him on the practice field throughout this week.
Head coach Frank Reich said he has been impressed with Dalton since he got here, expressing confidence in what he can bring against the Seahawks.
“This guy is practicing at a high level,” Reich said. “The way he’s throwing the football, the way he works through progressions, the way he handles the operation. … Since day one (when) he walked in the door, I’m like, ‘This guy is starter-worthy.’ You guys know I’ve said that all along. He’s, in my opinion, one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the world. So really glad we have him for situations like this. He’s had a really good week in practice. And looking forward to seeing him play.”
The offense remains Young’s to command once he returns from the ankle injury in “1-2 weeks,” per Reich.
Dalton said in a press conference this week that he knows what his role has been since he got here, and that hasn’t changed.
“My goal is to win,” he replied when asked about his potential role for Sunday. “Especially here, this is Bryce’s thing. I’m not here to make this a competition, make it some thing.
“I’m here to help the team.”
Receivers seeking more impact
The Panthers have yet to see much production from their group of wide receivers, as the team’s 133.0 net passing yards per game stand at last in the league.
Adam Thielen is the only wide receiver with more than 50 yards through the first two games, totaling 66 on nine receptions. Tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Chuba Hubbard are next up with 61 yards and 43 yards receiving, respectively, while rookie wideout Jonathan Mingo has totaled 43 yards of his own.
With a different quarterback throwing to them, the group has been tasked to build chemistry quickly.
Thielen discussed the group’s work toward improvement this week and said having Dalton under center isn’t going to change that goal.
“He wasn’t brought here just to be here,” Thielen said of Dalton. “He was brought here (so) that if he needed to go in the game, he could operate at a high level. So I would imagine that whoever’s in there is going to operate at a high level, and we’re going to find a way to become a better offense and be the offense that we really want to be.”
First full game without Thompson
Linebacker Shaq Thompson‘s season-ending fractured fibula came early in the Saints game, but this week’s matchup against the Seahawks will be the first time the defense will go a full 60 minutes without him.
Versatile linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill stepped up in Thompson’s role Monday, flashing with a big sack against Derek Carr.
“I’ve worked with Kamu before … he’s played some football,” Reich said. “I’ve gone up against him, coached against him when he was a starting linebacker for Houston. So I have a lot of respect for what he did (against New Orleans).”
But defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said this week they were still working through what the rotation at Thompson’s spot could look like, as the team signed veteran linebacker Deion Jones (“Deebo,” as Evero calls him) to the 53-man roster from the practice squad this week and could expect him to see snaps. Jones went through training camp with the Panthers and has logged 96 games throughout his NFL career.
“We’re still trying to work through all of those different things,” Evero said. “We felt really good about how Kamu played in the game. Deebo’s, obviously, he’s going to be up now. He’s going to provide some depth, and we’re working throughout all this rotational thing. Chandler Wooten is in play. So we’re kind of considering everybody.”
Monitoring right guard
The Panthers started second-year lineman Cade Mays at right guard last week against the Saints, but they finished the game with Calvin Throckmorton at the spot. Reich didn’t announce a starter there this week, leaving the door open for Seattle.
“We’ve had a good week of practice there, so we’ll let that play out the way it plays out in the game,” Reich said. “There could be some times during the game, we get a feel like, hey, if a guy needs a break. Usually (with) the O-line, we don’t do that. But sometimes we go into this, and especially in a new situation like this, when when it’s kind of fresh, sometimes we might give a guy another guy a series.”
The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Throckmorton is a fourth-year lineman who was acquired by Carolina from the Saints via waivers after the 53-man roster deadline. He brings playing experience in 33 games with 20 starts.
Eddy Piñeiro on a streak
Eddy Piñeiro is on a streak of 23 consecutive field goals and needs just a few more this season to make franchise history.
Graham Gano made 28 straight field goals with the Panthers from 2017-18. Piñeiro is five away from tying the record and six from taking it for himself.
Piñeiro hasn’t missed a field goal try since Week 8 at Atlanta last season. He converted two from more than 50 yards out last week against New Orleans, tying the team record for most 50-yard field goals in a game. Piñeiro’s 54-yard make on Monday tied his career-best mark in the league.
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