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Panthers Q&A with Cat Scratch Reader

In preparation for tonight's Eagles-Panthers preseason game, I did a Q&A with James Dator of Cat Scratch Reader.


Cam Newton is entering his 3rd year in Carolina. What are the expectations for him this season?

If Newton can take on more of a leadership roles inside the organization (which he has), and reduce his number of interceptions it would be a successful year. I don't think he's going to throw for 4,000 yards this year, largely because of the offense, but I think he'll take steps forward as a complete quarterback.

One player who was on the radar for Eagles fans during the 2012 draft was Luke Kuechly. I think that Eagles fans are happy that Philly ended up with Fletcher Cox, but what are we missing out on with Luke?

How easily those roles could have been reversed. I was almost sure the Panthers would take Cox last year too -- but here we are. Look, I think you should be happy with Fletcher, the kid is already good and I think he can be great. Kuechly, on the other hand... there aren't enough words for me to accurately explain how good this kid is.

He didn't get to start at middle linebacker until week six, forced to the weakside role while the Panthers gave the veteran bump to Jon Beason. If Luke started a full season at MLB he would have passed 200 tackles on the year, and broken Patrick Willis' rookie tackling record.

Kuechly is as instinctive as I've ever seen at the position. His first step is almost-always the right one, and it shows on game day. In the first preseason game he was only on the field for 10 snaps, and finished with 4 tackles and 3 stops -- that's par for the course. There's still work to be done in pass coverage, but I'm confident he'll be one of the league's best linebackers for a long time.

Both the Eagles and Panthers are loaded at RB, and have QBs who can tote the rock in their own right (that is if Vick wins the QB battle). Who finishes the season with more rushing yards, the Eagles or Panthers?

That's a tough one, because so much of both team's offense is unknown. We know Chip Kelly's system makes running backs look good, and we know the Panthers are trying to become a run-first team this year.

Ultimately I'll say the Panthers for two main reasons. Firstly, I'm not convinced new offensive coordinator Mike Shula has complex plans for throwing the football, and rushing is what he knows. Secondly, I don't think Carolina's offensive line is tooled to pass protect sufficiently, meaning the team falls back to the run game. If Jonathan Stewart gets healthy the Panthers have four guys who will get their touches -- DeAngelo Williams, Stewart, Newton, and Mike Tolbert. That's a lot of running attack.

Who's one player on the Panthers that Eagles fans might not know right now, but they'll remember his name Friday morning?

Cornerback Josh Norman. A 5th round pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2012, he struggled throughout his rookie year, as you'd expect from a DII rookie entering the NFL. However, he's really turned the corner this offseason, and had a stellar outing against the Chicago Bears last week that saw him finish with 4 tackle, 3 PDef, and 2 interceptions -- one was returned for a touchdown.

If there was one player you could take from the Eagles, and put on the Panthers' roster who would it be, and why?

DeSean Jackson, without question. In many ways I see him as a similar receiver to our own Steve Smith, and putting him on the Panthers would allow him to learn some of the veteran's tricks before leaning on him to be 'the guy'. I'm tempted to grab Lane Johnson because of the offensive line issues in Carolina, but I can't pass up giving Cam Newton a target like Jackson.

Go to Cat Scratch Reader for Panthers coverage.

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