4 pleasant surprises for the Panthers vs. Cardinals in Week 4

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Reggie Bonnafon
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Reggie Bonnafon /
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Carolina Panthers
(Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Greg Little /

Greg Little – Carolina Panthers OT

It was a big blow for the Carolina Panthers to be without the services of veteran left tackle Russell Okung for a second straight game. The Pro Bowler has been an assured presence over the first two contests and things looked bleak given the way Greg Little struggled to cope with the force of Joey Bosa in their win at the Chargers in Week 3.

We needn’t have worried. Little turned in his best performance in a Panthers’ uniform to thwart the threat posed by Chandler Jones, who was the NFL’s sack leader in 2019.

This was more than a surprise given Jones’ ability to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. The second-year-pro provided Teddy Bridgewater with superb blindside protection for the most part and his aggressiveness off the block was an eye-catching element of his overall contribution.

What comes next for Little will be equally as important. The offensive lineman is unlikely to remove Okung from the starting job when he returns from injury. But if he can continue to show promise in a rotational role, then it might come with being given the opportunity to fill the Super Bowl winner’s void when the player eventually moves on or even contemplates retirement at the end of the current campaign.