3 concerns for Matt Rhule ahead of Raiders clash in Week 1

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Rhule
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /

Coping without Luke Kuechly

The Carolina Panthers lost the services of some influential roster members during the offseason. Plenty of veterans were moved on for the greater good, including iconic signal-caller Cam Newton. But one player’s departure will be felt more than any other between the lines.

Luke Kuechly might be on the staff as a pro scout following his shock retirement. But his ability to make plays on defense and inspire others around him is going to be sorely missed.

The perennial All-Pro linebacker was the heart and soul of the Panthers’ defense from the moment he was drafted. And his presence on the field would have been crucial with a young core that is going to be learning as they go.

The likes of Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead will look to fill the enormous shoes left by Kuechly. This is easier said than done and Matt Rhule won’t know for sure just how his unit at the second level is going to fare in the face of stern competition.

There is nobody who could match what Kuechly brought to the Panthers on almost every down. What Rhule and others must ensure is that it becomes a collective effort as the season goes on. But the Raiders boast an outstanding offensive line and a young running back in Josh Jacobs who could enter the elite category in 2020.

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Week 1 might be too soon to analyze just what to expect from this new group long-term. But their deficiencies might be there for all to see against a Las Vegas team that loves nothing more than running in-between the tackles.