3 major storylines following the Carolina Panthers into Week 9 vs. Colts

Keep an eye on these interesting dynamics...

Frank Reich
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Will Carolina Panthers run defense hold up?

The Achilles heel of this Carolina Panthers' defense all season has been stopping - even quasi-limiting - the opponents' ground game. With Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss strolling into town, this sets up to be a pivotal area in Week 9.

The Panthers looked improved against the Houston Texans coming out of the bye week, keeping them to a relatively modest total of 110 yards on the ground, allowing 3.7 yards per carry. They boast the 26th-ranked rushing offense in the league, for what it’s worth. The Colts have the ninth-best rushing attack.

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero implemented a few changes with personnel following the bye. Perhaps most notable was the uptick in snaps for linebacker Deion Jones over Kamu Grugier-Hill.

This was likely done as a concerted effort to get more veteran presence on the field and slightly more discipline in run fits. There will be adjustments again on Sunday thanks to further injuries.

Justin Houston was placed on injured/reserve and will miss at least the next four games. Third-round rookie D.J. Johnson should see extra playing time - especially with his edge-setting proclivity and size on the outside.

I also look for undrafted rookie Eku Leota to see his usage increase. This young defense will face a tall task against the Colts and Taylor, in particular.