2 dark-horse Panthers defenders that need to perform vs. the Saints

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Frankie Luvu – Carolina Panthers OLB

Frankie Luvu signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2021 free agency and has brought some intensity to the rush defense.

While he recorded two solo tackles against his former team the New York Jets, Luvu’s preseason debut showed he has natural instinct at reading offenses.

According to Pro Football Focus, he finished with four solo tackles, two assists, one sack, and one forced fumble. Luvu puts extreme pressure on players running routes in the middle and hits hard.

Luvu plays fast non-stop smashmouth football, which is the exact level of intensity the Panthers need to break up and get into the head of Saints quarterback Jameis Winston who is coming off a big five touchdown win last week.

To beat the Saints, Luvu needs to continue to bring his aggressive athleticism as well as ability to read the offense to break up critical mid-range plays. He excels covering in the middle and can hunt down quarterback runs outside the pocket.

The Saints love to run the ball and throwing middle to long-range throws. Winston is a triple threat because he has the speed to run, his body can take a hit and he can throw the deep pass.

Carolina needs Luvu to be patient and wait to either catch Winston trying to make a run play or hone in on breaking up pass attempts in the middle.

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If he can help contain Winston, it will put pressure on the Saints to run the ball or try to throw it long, where Jaycee Horn, Deonte Jackson, and Jeremy Chinn will be waiting to make a play.