4 key storylines to watch during Carolina Panthers vs. the Saints in Week 2

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

How will Sam Darnold cope against a better defense?

It was an encouraging debut from Sam Darnold in Week 1 as he got one over on his former employers to kick off his career with the Carolina Panthers. But this will be far from the best defensive unit he’ll come across throughout the 2021 campaign.

The New Orleans Saints held Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to just three points last Sunday. A real turnup for the books considering they were going up against the reigning NFL MVP.

Darnold knows the size of the task awaiting him. Any replication of the stuttering second-half display versus the New York Jets won’t end well this weekend at Bank of America Stadium.

That being said, Darnold looked far more composed in the pocket than we became accustomed to seeing at MetLife Stadium. His hard work during the offseason seems to have paid off, although this will be a better measuring stick regarding how much more development is needed.

New Orleans will be all-too-aware of the Panthers’ suspect protection and what could happen if Darnold becomes flustered. Their first task is going to be limiting Christian McCaffrey’s influence, which piles additional pressure on the USC product in return.

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Sunday’s game was just the start for Darnold, whose consistency is going to be absolutely pivotal for the Panthers in pursuit of victory.