Panthers aim to run winning streak vs. Cardinals to five
Now that the Carolina Panthers crashed the win column, they’re answering different questions going into their Week 4 game.
Just how can they take their one-game success and turn it into more?
The Panthers take on an opponent dealing with a different perspective — the Arizona Cardinals are coming off their first defeat of the season — when the teams meet Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
“We’re continuing to just learn (about) each other,” Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “We have to stay motivated, stay hungry to be the best.”
Carolina held on to topple the Los Angeles Chargers last week, ending the franchise’s 10-game losing streak and providing first-year coach Matt Rhule with his first NFL victory.
Rhule wants the Panthers (1-2) to be as critical in their evaluation of the past game as they were after losses.
“The fun of it is over,” he said. “I’m on to the Cardinals.”
Arizona (2-1) is stewing after a home loss to the Detroit Lions. The Cardinals saw too many shortcomings on offense come back to hurt them.
“I have to do a better job of getting us in a flow offensively,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
They’ll want to discover that groove against a Carolina defense that suddenly looked better, particularly after generating a pass rush that had been dormant for the first two weeks of the season.
“We think we can be a top-three, top-five offense in the NFL,” Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds said. “We have to find a way to make it happen.”
The Panthers were tripped up repeatedly in the red zone in their game with the Chargers. They scored just one touchdown and settled for five short field goals from Joey Slye.
“We have to have the mindset when we get down there that we can still run the ball or we can throw the ball,” Bridgewater said. “We want to make sure we get better down there.”
The disturbing trend was Carolina’s 3-for-12 rate on third-down conversions.
“We want to score more touchdowns,” Bridgewater said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
The Panthers are counting on a largely new group of playmakers. This will be the first home game without running back Christian McCaffrey, whose Sept. 20 ankle injury at Tampa Bay is going to cause him to miss about a month of action.
Mike Davis filled in at Los Angeles and scored the team’s only touchdown on a screen pass.
The Cardinals have concerns on defense, especially because injuries have depleted the safety position. Safeties Budda Baker (thumb) and Chris Banjo (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.
Adding to the scrutiny is that the Cardinals are without an interception through three games.
“I think those will show up. It just hasn’t happened yet,” Kingsbury said. “I do think the defense has made big strides overall.”
The game will mark a return to the Carolinas for Arizona rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a first-round draft pick in April out of Clemson. Given the roster situation on defense, Simmons’ ability to play multiple positions in college could come in handy for the Cardinals, Kingsbury said.
“He has a feel for multiple positions,” he said. “I think that will help the learning curve. He has done a nice job of picking things up.”
Carolina defensive tackle Kawann Short returned for limited practice Wednesday, increasing the chance he could play after missing the past two games with a foot ailment. Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung missed the Chargers game and remained off the practice field by mid-week because of a groin injury.
This is the first of three consecutive road games for the Cardinals, including next week’s return to the East Coast to meet the New York Jets.
This will be the fourth out of the past five meetings between the teams to be held in Charlotte. In that stretch, the Panthers won a pair of playoff encounters before a 2016 regular-season matchup. The Cardinals have lost six of their last seven visits and four in a row overall.
Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.
–Field Level Media