3 reasons the Carolina Panthers can beat the Saints in Week 2

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /

Carolina Panthers can take advantage of an extremely unestablished WR corps

One of the biggest headlines coming out of the New Orleans Saints this offseason was Michael Thomas’ late-July ankle surgery. The procedure, which was expected to happen much earlier, has left the All-Pro on the PUP list to start 2021.

In his absence, Tre’Quan Smith was supposed to establish himself as the temporary go-to guy. A shoulder injury has since landed him on injured reserve, leaving Marquez Callaway as the team’s top wide receiver.

Despite the opportunity to get extra targets, Callaway mustered just one reception for 14 yards against the Green Bay Packers. Deonte Harris led the team in receiving with 72 yards, with 55 coming on one play. Still, nobody else had more than 21 yards, leaving the Saints’ receiving concerns largely unanswered.

As a result, the Carolina Panthers’ young secondary doesn’t have to worry about covering a true No. 1 wideout.

Juwan Johnson, a player who had just 39 receiving yards all of last season, was New Orleans’ biggest pass-catching threat. But did so without lining up against anyone of Shaq Thompson’s or Jeremy Chinn’s caliber.

There’s no doubt that the Saints have one of the league’s weakest receiving groups in Thomas’ absence, so that should be a huge advantage for a still-growing Carolina defense.

If the Panthers’ pass rush can make life hard on Jameis Winston, then that advantage should become even greater.

Jaycee Horn put together a rather inconspicuous NFL debut last Sunday – which is a good thing for a cornerback – but don’t expect to hear much about him this weekend either.

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It would be foolish to say the Saints don’t have any athleticism at receiver. However, the talent in the Carolina secondary just far outweighs that of New Orleans’ receiving corps.