Carolina Panthers Gearing Up for Visiting New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 29: Captain Munnerlyn #41 of the Carolina Panthers runs a kick off against Steve Weatherford #9 of the New York Jets on November 29, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The last time the Carolina Panthers played the New York Jets, the ending wasn’t so pretty. It was a close and competitive game, but the ending was a heartbreaker.

Granted, when the Panthers played at Giants Stadium in 2009, the game meant something, as it took place during regular season, and there was still that thread of hope that with a win, Carolina might be able to pull off a miracle playoff run.

This being a preseason run means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but we will get to take a longer look at the starting lineup (a whole half).

Facing the Baltimore Ravens last week, the Panthers looked good, overall. Not impressive so much, but for the youth that is on the team, it looked better than what most of us may have envisioned going into the first game of preseason.

The Jets are another team that, like Baltimore, will give Carolina some challenges. Look for the Panthers to play a similar brand of bland football as they played against the Ravens last Thursday, even though the Panthers will not play the Jets in the regular season.

There are a few good things to note going into this game, however. Cornerback Chris Gamble will be back to assist the Carolina’s defensive secondary, while on offense we will see the return of running back Jonathan Stewart. Oh yeah, Matt Moore will also have a more reliable receiver to throw to in that other guy…what’s his name again?…Steve Smith.

I kept hearing today how Carolina still has a lot of question marks going into the regular season — question marks that right now has them as a six-win team (+/- 2) among some experts.

So far, the quarterback position has shown some promise. Moore had a few mistakes against Baltimore, but threw no picks. That in itself is a win. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw one pick, but fortunately it was a preseason game and as a rookie, he’s still learning.

The quest of figuring out who might be the No. 2 receiver could find a resolution Saturday night, or at least come a step closer. Dwayne Jarrett has been saying all the right things to the media, cementing his case that he has grown and matured as a person, but we’ve yet to see anything substantial from him as a receiver.

The popular and logical opinion right now though, is Jarrett will do enough to remain on the team for his contract year, which could put him at second- or third-string receiver.

Brandon LaFell is still learning the system and could either take a while to develop, or he might be on his way to the No.2 receiver job by the beginning of regular season. Either way, it’s definitely too early to pass any judgment on him.

Will second-year fullback Tony Fiammetta show the same tenacious playmaking ability that he debuted with a week ago? I have to say not only did I like what I saw from Fiammetta, I was pleasantly surprised to see how good of hands he has for catching passes and how his blocking has improved in an offseason.

The offensive line is an area that will show some hiccups; mainly due to the absence of the big-bodied right tackle, Jeff Otah, and shaking off some rust in other areas.

On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Gamble should be returning to the lineup against the Jets. That will be a big help for the defensive secondary, which should help boost production, as the corners were unable to effectively cover Baltimore’s receivers with consistency.

Safeties Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin have another week of practice under their belts, so we should see some improvement against the Jets passing game.

To me, the defensive line isn’t as big a focal point as it was a week ago. The d-line did an overall good job of defending Baltimore’s passing attack, and didn’t do too bad defending against the run — there is still room for improvement, however.

Special teams was, well, not very special against Baltimore. Some of the mistakes can be blamed on the foul weather, but that blame is minimal. Once again, youth and inexperience showed their faces, and made the first game one to forget. I’d like to see more attempts at actually returning the ball, and of course better tackling when defending New York’s return game.

I’d say that overall, there are still some question marks. The key however, is that with each passing week, the question marks are met with resolution.

On Saturday, Carolina will be wearing it’s white jerseys and white pants.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Brandon LaFell Carolina Panthers Charles Godfrey Chris Gamble Dwayne Jarrett Giants Stadium Jeff Otah Jimmy Clausen Jonathan Stewart Matt Moore New York Jets NFL Preseason Week Two Sherrod Martin Steve Smith Tony Fiammetta

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