Which sneaky threat should the Carolina Panthers take seriously when they take on the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium in Week 1?
Year 3 for Matt Rhule was the time when his college programs took off. He has a very solid roster and one of the deepest receiving rooms the Carolina Panthers have had in a while, recently signing Preston Williams to the practice squad as an insurance policy if Baker Mayfield needs another weapon.
This is a critical game for the Panthers as the schedule is brutal on the backend. They need to build some early momentum in pursuit of finally becoming competitive and perhaps even securing a surprise wildcard berth.
The defense’s new coaching hires will elevate the players in all areas of their game. This has been boosted by the arrivals of Steve Wilks and Paul Pasqualoni, two former defensive coordinators with plenty of success in their respective careers.
It promises to be a fascinating encounter that could go either way. Here are five sneaky threats Carolina must take seriously in Week 1.
Sneaky Threat No. 1
Carolina Panthers must contain Donovan Peoples-Jones
Donovan Peoples-Jones is the Cleveland Browns’ second receiving option and can create space at will, making timely catches with limited targets. The wide receiver will be a safety blanket for Jacoby Brissett, especially on third down, with most of the Carolina Panthers’ attention on newly signed free agent Amari Cooper.
Peoples-Jones had 17.6 yards per reception last year. That tells you he’s more of a medium to deep target threat. He won’t rack up a ton of yards, but will make his receptions well worth it when they come his way.
Carolina’s secondary and defensive coordinator Phil Snow must be aware of his capabilities. Keeping him from getting over the top and killing the defense on third down will be key to neutralizing the former Michigan standout.