3 Panthers position groups that must step up vs. Saints in Week 2

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick /
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Carolina Panthers
(Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via IMAGN Content Services) Zane Gonzalez /

Carolina Panthers ST

Joey Slye is now a Houston Texan. Ryan Santoso is now former member of the Carolina Panthers after a one-game stint.

Have the Panthers found their answer in recently acquired Zane Gonzalez?

The former Arizona State Sun Devil is the all-time FBS leader with 96 field goals. After a tryout in June to replace Slye, his opportunity comes three months later.

If Gonzalez can channel his collegiate magic, he may have found a permanent home.

One the other side, slotting the recently returned-from-injury Shi Smith as a kick returner will provide an avenue for him to make an impact while working his way up the wide receiver depth chart.

Smith had the fourth-fastest 40-time at the NFL combine at 4.33 seconds and his college film shows an athlete who can move down the field with ease.

Ever since David Moore was released, the team does not have a true No. 1 returner. Having D.J. Moore in this role is not ideal or favorable. If Smith can make an impact here and Gonzalez can put the ball through the uprights and out of the end-zone, the field position battle can be won.

A lot must go right on Sunday.

The Panthers let the New York Jets hang around far too long, and if they fall behind early to New Orleans, it will be difficult to come back from.

Must Read. 5 ways Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold can thrive vs. the Saints in Week 2. light

Carolina needs to get out to a fast start and limit the Saints third down conversions. If the defense can get off the field and the offense can piece together time draining drives, an opportunity to remain undefeated is in sight.