Panthers GAMEDAY: at Buffalo Bills, Preseason Game 1

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CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 17: Lorenzo Alexander #57 of the Buffalo Bills pressures Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 17: Lorenzo Alexander #57 of the Buffalo Bills pressures Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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Finally, the Carolina Panthers return to the field for live action in Buffalo on Thursday night…

A new era in Carolina Panthers franchise history officially begins at an appropriately named venue, New Era Field, in Buffalo when the preseason kicks off. New owner David Tepper gets to see his team play competitively for the first time against an opponent all too familiar with the ways of Carolina.

Former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott begins his sophomore campaign at the helm in Buffalo after putting the Bills back into the playoffs for the first time in 17 years last season. Utilizing many former Panthers both on the field and in management, the Bills have became known as “Carolina North” last year and the pattern continued this offseason.

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei landed in Buffalo after leaving Carolina in free agency, now anchoring the defensive line for the Bills. The Panthers first-round pick from 2014, Kelvin Benjamin, added a bit of intrigue to the game with his recent comments about the Panthers organization and quarterback Cam Newton in particular.

While Newton and Benjamin aren’t expected to have any opportunities for interaction during the game, both should be watched closely during warm-ups. However, once the game begins there will be plenty of other matchups and individual performances to keep both coaches and fans intrigued.

Following is your roadmap for all things Panthers and Bills related as the 2018 preseason begins.

Panthers Preview, Predictions and How to Watch

How and what to watch during the Panthers first preseason game of the 2018 season.

Three Things to Watch

A few areas of particular interest for Panthers fans to keep an eye on as the game unfolds.

NFL Power Rankings

Find out where the Panthers rank prior to their first game of the year.

More from Cat Crave

Offensive Line Injury Replacement Candidates

Down two starters to kick off the season, Carolina may turn to these players for help.

The Benjamin comments may have added a little fuel to a preseason game but the Panthers need to be focused on their own issues. Finding capable replacements at left guard, right tackle and in the secondary will be key to the team’s success moving forward. While injury woes have dampened excitement, every team deals with these unfortunate circumstances and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Carolina has their fair share of players returning from injury who may earn opportunities to contribute this year.

Next. Preseason Depth Chart Surprises. dark

Regardless of the final score, hopefully the team escapes Buffalo healthy and with some idea of who will fill these roles as the regular season approaches.

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