3 Panthers position groups that must step up vs. the Patriots in Week 9

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson and Jermaine Carter /

Carolina Panthers run defense

While technically not a single position group, this tends to comprise of the defensive line and linebacking corps. Two units that need to have a big say for the Carolina Panthers this weekend.

Mac Jones was a wonderful draft night selection after falling to the New England Patriots a No. 15 overall. However, the promising quarterback is a rookie and will make his fair share of mistakes throughout the season. All first-year players at the position need a good check down option and supporting running game.

Enter Damien Harris.

While not a name most would consider to be a top tier running back, he has quietly moved into 7th place rushing for 517 yards and averaging 4.38 yards per carry. Any offensive coordinator will happily take more than four years a carry. Not the flashiest, but it keeps the chains moving.

In his third season, Harris has found a groove as the cowbell of the Patriots offense to sustain drives. The Panthers’ defensive run game will be tasked with limiting Harris to takeaway that safety valve for Jones.

Fortunately for the Panthers, Shaq Thompson’s return to the lineup gave them a new lease of life at the Atlanta Falcons. Something that can hopefully continue for the remainder of the campaign.