5 big storylines to watch during Carolina Panthers vs. NY Jets in Week 1

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Can Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers OL keep it together?

This could be either the perfect first competitive game for Sam Darnold or one that’s simply too much to handle for the quarterback. Preference would be for the former ideally, although there’s no telling for sure until we see the signal-caller on the gridiron at Bank of America Stadium.

Darnold freely admitted he was stung by the New York Jets’ decision to trade him this offseason. A new regime obviously wanted to go in a different direction, but it didn’t hurt any less and especially considering the organization didn’t give the former first-round pick a chance to thrive.

The early signs surrounding Darnold in Carolina are positive. He grew in stature throughout training camp and left a notable impression in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers – even though it was against their second-team defense.

Not only must Darnold handle the occasion of going up against his old team. But the Panthers also need their suspect offensive line to stand up and show they can be a productive unit moving forward.

If the veterans projected to start don’t prove their worth, then it won’t be long before Carolina makes changes and potentially installs the likes of Brady Christensen and Deonte Brown into the fold after both rookies impressed in warmup games.

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Keeping it all together is absolutely critical for Darnold and the offensive linemen in front of him. Carolina fortunes will ultimately depend on it.