4 keys to victory for the Panthers against the Raiders in Week 1

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Taylor Moton /

Edge protection

One of the key areas for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday will be their edge protection. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey will be counting on this area to be consistent throughout to get the sort of time they need to make a significant difference.

This responsibility will fall primarily on the shoulders of Russell Okung and Taylor Moton. The duo could become prolific bookends if they reach their ceiling. But they face a stern test of their credentials in Week 1 against impressive pass-rusher Maxx Crosby and former No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell.

Okung and Moton are going to get all they can handle against this energetic pair. The Panthers do have a premier blocking tight end in Chris Manhertz to help out should they need it. However, their starting tackles will be tasked with keeping the second-year-pros quiet for the majority of the game.

That is going to be easier said than done. Crosby and Ferrell achieved 14.5 sacks between them during their first year at the next level and the sky is the limit for them if they have brought their respective skillsets on during the preparation period.

Carolina parted ways with Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner in order to acquire Okung, who has seen it all and even has a Super Bowl ring to show from a standout career to date. His presence at left tackle will be an asset providing he can stay healthy, but the player did miss ten games in 2019 due to blood clots caused by a pulmonary embolism.

Moton is a tackle with elite potential who has been the one shining light on Carolina’s offensive line over the last two seasons. Another superb year of production is going to come with a bumper payday next spring and there is nothing to suggest he is not more than capable of.