5 major talking points from the Panthers’ victory at Texans in Week 3

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Tommy Tremble /

 The Carolina Panthers remain undefeated

Undoubtedly the Carolina Panthers moving to 3-0 has been slightly marred by the injuries suffered in Houston. However, we’ll speak more about that later.

The Panthers are 3-0 and after the struggles of recent seasons that feels great to say. Primetime was the perfect opportunity for Carolina to showcase to the NFL world they’re a serious team this season.

When Christian McCaffrey left the game early in the second quarter, Panthers fans would have had flashbacks to last season and the struggles of Teddy Bridgewater without the All-Pro. After a rough couple of series’ in the player’s immediate absence, Sam Darnold found his mojo closing the game out.

This was a perfect opportunity for the Panthers defense to excel once again coming up against a rookie quarterback with just 11 starts to his name at the college and NFL levels.

Once again they showed they were the real deal limiting Houston to just 193 total yards, but things may have been different if Tyrod Taylor who had started the season well would have been under center.

Regardless of this, we shouldn’t diminish the achievement of this front seven considering the struggles in getting sacks a year ago. This defense has the ability to be a top-five unit in the league.

Phil Snow’s unit will face their first serious test next Sunday when they roll into Arlington to face Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.

Carolina Panthers
(San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network) Richard Sherman /

The Carolina Panthers should sign Richard Sherman

From an injury standpoint, last night was tough. Matt Rhule has lost starting cornerback Jaycee Horn for what seems to be a lengthy period of time.

Horn left the game in the third quarter with a non-contact foot injury. It was later confirmed by Rhule post-game that the No. 8 overall selection had broken “multiple bones in his foot” and later NFL Network’s insider Ian Rapoport declared that the former Gamecock was looking at 2-3 months on the sideline.

This almost certainly means Horn will go onto IR. The Carolina Panthers have an ample replacement in former Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye, however, they are worryingly thin at cornerback now.

Enter Richard Sherman, the three-time first-team All-Pro is a free agent after being released by the San Francisco 49ers in February this year.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer is someone who knows Sherman well. He was director of college scouting in 2011 when the player was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth-round out of Stanford.

Sherman became a part of the feared Legion of Boom defense which won the 2013 Super Bowl.

Concerns have been leveled about Sherman’s age and speed, we also can’t ignore the domestic violence case against him which is currently ongoing. However, with the Panthers now short and don’t be surprised to see Fitterer make a formal offer to his old pal after reaching out on Sunday.

Carolina Panthers
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard /

Carolina Panthers RB Chuba Hubbard must take the workload

If the injury to Jaycee Horn was bad enough, star running back Christian McCaffrey left the game in Houston with what was later diagnosed as a strained hamstring.

This will have been a worry to fans as McCaffrey only suited up for three games last season due to injury. However, although Horn is facing an extended spell on the sidelines the prognosis isn’t as bad for the former Stanford star.

McCaffrey is not expected to be placed on IR – at least initially –  leading to the thought it’s a Grade 1 hamstring strain meaning that typically comes with a 3-4 week absence.

That means a lot of the pressure will now fall on rookie Chuba Hubbard, who performed solidly in McCaffrey’s absence, totaling 11 carries for 52 yards and three receptions for 27 yards.

The Carolina Panthers also have former Denver Bronco Royce Freeman who will now move up to RB2 and can expect to see more touches now McCaffrey is out.

We may also see a new name in the Panthers locker room as reported by senior NFL insider Adam Schefter the Panthers were working out former Texan Duke Johnson and a number of others, although nothing concrete has emerged as yet.

However, it seems now Hubbard will have to shoulder the majority of the workload in the absence of McCaffrey.

The former Oklahoma State star has struggled to acclimatize to NFL life, even drawing the ire of Matt Rhule after Week 1. Now it seems Hubbard will have increased responsibility.

Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Carolina Panthers offensive line /

The Carolina Panthers must make changes at OL

I feel like a broken record here, if the Carolina Panthers want to be a winning team this season they must make changes to their offensive line.

Through the first two games of the season, they’d done a decent enough job protecting Sam Darnold to avoid serious criticism.

However, against a Houston defense notorious for getting little pressure they gave up three sacks and Darnold was found scrambling on many occasions throughout the contest.

Strangely even with starting left guard Pat Elflein on IR, Michael Jordan and Deonte Brown were inactive for the primetime clash. Something which must change at the Dallas Cowboys next week.

This was the worst performance from the line this season with pressure coming across the board. It’s only a matter of time before we see the likes of Jordan, Brown and rookie Brady Christensen getting reps if this trend continues.

It’s a wonder what it’ll take for Matt Rhule to make changes on the line. Problems regarding poor protection are nothing new where the Panthers are concerned, which caused former MVP, Cam Newton, to take a wealth of unnecessary punishment that took its toll in the long run.

Hopefully, Darnold doesn’t suffer the same fate. But the possibility is a big one unless significant adjustments aren’t made.

Carolina Panthers
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /

The NFL really needs to questions the safety of Thursday Night Football

Am I just being salty because the team lost two studs in Jaycee Horn and Christian McCaffrey?


However, there are legitimate concerns about the NFL’s prime-time game.

Giving athletes just three days to recover after a grueling Sunday game is just asking for injuries to players. With a travel day included for some journeys, this gives just 48 hours of recovery which is clearly not enough.

Whether any change will come is yet to be seen. Unfortunately, money talks usually so unless we see active resistance from players and staff we’re won’t see change.

There’s also the issue of turf, former Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston had his say on Twitter after the injury to Horn which seemed to come when he planted his foot on the turf saying:

"“That turf is horrible and tough on guys’ muscles and joints. Just too much force with enough give from the surface.”"

Must Read. 5 free agents that could help the Carolina Panthers after Week 3. light

If professional players are publicizing issues with turf, this is a worry. Especially considering the Panthers recently switched the field at Bank of America Stadium stadium to this very surface.