Can the offensive line come together quickly?
The Carolina Panthers might have some exceptional weapons on offense at their disposal. But this will all count for nothing if they cannot get the necessary protection for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the pocket.
This has the potential to be catastrophic if everything doesn’t come together quickly. Three of the five projected starters on Sunday will be playing their first snaps in Carolina and although team drills will have built cohesion somewhat, getting it done on the field in a competitive setting is a completely different matter.
When Matt Rhule examines what might go wrong for the Panthers during their opening game, then this area would be high on the shortlist. Russell Okung and Taylor Moton could be two bookend tackles if they reach expectations. But the veteran Pro Bowler missed ten games last year and it is hard to deny that his health is something to keep a close eye on, at the very least.
Moton is heading into the final year of his deal and is one of the NFL’s best young players at the position. His outstanding play over the last two seasons is worthy of a big-money deal that hasn’t yet arrived. But the Panthers should make this their top priority in 2021.
Rhule will be looking at his interior options with a degree of concern, and rightfully so. Dennis Daley looks set to miss the game through injury, leaving them with John Miller, Michael Schofield, and Matt Paradis as their starting options.
All three are experienced enough despite their limitations. But the Raiders will be targeting this area as one of weakness and how they cope could determine the overall outcome of the game.