The Eagles begin their 2009 season on the road against the Carolina Panthers, and so we start this year's 5 questions series in the same place. This week I exchanged questions with Jaxon, who blogs about the Carolina Panthers over on Cat Scratch Reader.
You should find my answers to his questions over there sometime today.
First, let's start with injuries. Both the Eagles and Panthers got hit with a slew of injuries this summer. How bad have the injuries in Carolina been? What guys will be back, who won't be back, and which guys may not be at 100%?
We’ve been mainly worried about the status of MLB Jon Beason (MCL strain) and RB Jonathan Stewart (Achilles) but we just got word on Wednesday that both practiced so it appears both will play. SS Chris Harris is sitting out practice with a leg bruise and FS Charles Godfrey is playing with a wrap on a broken hand surgically repaired last week. We’ve already lost two DT’s to IR for the season in Maake Kemoeatu and rookie Corvey Irvin but otherwise it looks like the Panthers will enter the game fairly healthy.
Frankly I was surprised to learn that the Eagles are 2 point favorites this weekend. Is that simply Vegas buying into Eagles hype, or do you they're down on Carolina?
Everyone is down on the Panthers except the diehard faithful. The divisional match-up with the NFC East and AFC East plus the #1 divisional seed have reaped the 2nd hardest schedule in the league. Combine that with the Delhomme playoff meltdown and I can understand the skeptics. Plus the Eagles bring a strong squad fresh off a playoff run to the NFC Title game. We welcome the underdog role.
When I talk to people about Carolina's chances this year, their level of confidence in the team is tied directly to their level of confidence in Jake Delhomme. Do you agree that he's the key to this season and what is your outlook on Delhomme?
He’s the primary key to the offense but the run defense was also a major liability down the stretch. Many vocal ‘Jake Haters’ as we call them want to run him out of town but it’s clear his team mates feel just the opposite. Jake still commands the huddle and has many 4th quarter comebacks on his resume to prove he has the mettle to guide another stellar season. A poll I ran over the offseason showed 75% of fans still trust Jake to guide this team.
This is probably not something you want to remember... but that loss at home to the Cardinals last year seems like one of those losses that sticks with you and can hang over a team. Have the Panthers seemed to have forgotten than loss, will they use it as motivation, or might it actually still bother them?
That loss has not been forgotten at all and is being used as a source of motivation. Jake has taken full responsibility for his play and has emerged re-energized in the preseason. He has in turn looked fairly sharp in his throws and appears to have more confidence in his additional weapons available. If there is any issue lingering from that loss to the Cardinals it is only mentioned as a reason to focus on the goals for 2009.
This is my standard question that people love to hear opponents answer... If you could steal one Eagle and add him to your roster who would it be?
Good question. After kicking around a few names in my head I have to say CB Asante Samuel. Finding playmakers in the secondary is hard to do and Samuel is one of the best. Putting Samuel across from Chris Gamble would be fun to watch for Panther fans.
Bonus question.... What Panther that we've never heard of is going to surprise us with a big game this Sunday?
My money is on WR Kenny Moore, a 5th round pick by the Lions last season who the Panthers stole off their practice squad. The Panthers have struggled to find a #3 WR ever since Ricky Proehl retired but Moore has impressed in the preseason. I think he will make a few key 3rd down catches to keep drives going and confound your pass defense.
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