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Five things about Panthers
Carolina will lean on Williams, defense
 
Published Friday, August 30, 2013 7:20 am
by Steve Reed, The Associated Press

If Carolina's defense continues to play like it has in the preseason, the Panthers could be in for one heck of a year.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Carolina Panthers receiver Ted Ginn (left) celebrates with Brandon LaFell after scoring on a touchdown pass against Pittsburgh on Aug. 29. Ginn has proved to be a playmaker in preseason with a punt return for a score and a couple of touchdown receptions.

The Panthers intercepted rookie quarterback Landry Jones three times Thursday night in a 25-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish 3-1 in the preseason.

Carolina finished the exhibition schedule with 13 takeaways and four defensive touchdowns.

"We have to continue to work on it and understand just how important it is to get the ball," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

5 things we know about the Panthers after the preseason:

1. LEANING HARD ON DEANGELO: The Panthers will have to lean more on running back DeAngelo Williams this season — at least early on. Carolina placed Jonathan Stewart on the physically unable to perform list, so he will miss at least five games. When Mike Tolbert returns from a hamstring — his status for the opener against Seattle is questionable — he may be able to help ease Williams' load but until then the Panthers will count on their all-time leading rusher to pile up the numbers.

2. OFFENSIVE LINE A CONCERN: Carolina's first-team offense only scored one touchdown this preseason and the offensive line has had its share of injuries, so that's a concern. Travelle Wharton, who just signed this week, is expected to start at left guard even though he hasn't played a real game since 2011.

3. LINEBACKERS COULD BE AWESOME: Rivera couldn't be more excited about the prospect of having a healthy Jon Beason and Thomas Davis play alongside middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who might be on the verge of becoming the league's best middle linebacker. Kuechly led the league in tackles last season and if you haven't seen him play yet, you're missing something special.

4. TED GINN JR. COULD GIVE A BOOST: Ginn was a cheap acquisition for the Panthers this offseason but he's already showing he has what it takes to be a playmaker. He sparked the Panthers to wins in their final two preseason games with a 74-yard punt return against Baltimore and two TD catches against Pittsburgh, including an 87-yarder bomb from Derek Anderson.

5. PANTHERS DEEPER: Depth has been a concern for years with the Panthers, but they seem to be more talented overall than in recent seasons. Carolina's success in the preseason has proven that out as they've been able to hold on to win preseason games in the second half.

 

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