One of the lasting images from their 10-9 win at San Francisco last week was the Carolina Panthers’ defensive linemen and linebackers chasing 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick all over Candlestick Park.
The Panthers sacked Kaepernick six times – the most allowed by the Niners this season – and hurried him on several other plays.
But Panthers coach Ron Rivera doesn’t necessarily expect to see the same thing Monday against New England quarterback Tom Brady. Rivera wasn’t talking about Brady’s lack of mobility, but rather his experience, pocket presence and ability to make quick decisions.
“Colin’s still in his second year as a starter. So he’s still learning, whereas you’ve got Tom Brady that gets its and understands it and knows how to help his offensive line out,” Rivera said. “Getting the ball out a lot quicker, trying to throw receivers open, pulling the trigger a lot sooner and making quicker decisions. That’s part of the difference.
“Young guys tend to hold the ball a little bit longer. Brady’s getting it out. If the guy’s coming open or if he’s expecting the guy to be open, he’s throwing it.”
Until last week at San Francisco, the Panthers had fared better against pocket passers than mobile quarterbacks this season. But they overwhelmed Kaepernick, with their six sacks spread among five players.
Brady has been sacked 26 times this season, the same as Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. While Newton’s sacks have resulted in a loss of 210 yards, Brady’s have gone for a loss of 168 yards.
Injury Report: The Panthers will be without two starters and a key backup Monday against the Patriots. Outside linebacker Chase Blackburn (foot) and right guard Chris Scott (knee) and backup tight end Ben Hartsock (knee) are out after missing practice all week.
Rookie A.J. Klein and former defensive tackle Nate Chandler are expected to get their second consecutive starts in place of Blackburn and Scott, respectively.
Hartsock doesn’t have a catch this season – he’s not been targeted – but he’s a strong blocker who is rated among the best blocking tight ends in the league by Pro Football Focus. Undrafted rookie Brandon Williams and fullback/tight end Richie Brockel will get the reps in Hartsock’s absence.
“We have Brandon Williams, who’s been waiting in the wings for an opportunity. We’ve got Richie Brockel, who pretty much does everything for us,” Rivera said. “So feel pretty confident that that position will be handled very well.”
Cornerback Drayton Florence was a new addition to the injury report Saturday after his groin “flared up,” Rivera said. Florence did not practice and is listed as questionable, although Rivera expects him to play Monday.
“He’s got a couple of days to get the soreness out,” Rivera said. “He’ll get treatment and he’ll get it worked on. I don’t see it being a problem.”
Florence, the first corner off the bench, has an interception in each of the past two games. He picked off a Matt Ryan pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown in a win against Atlanta, and had the game-sealing interception of Kaepernick in the final minute last week.
Pats’ DBs banged up: Two Patriots defensive backs are out for Monday’s game and two more might be. Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and Steve Gregory (finger) will sit out. Kyle Arrington (groin) and Aqib Talib (hip) are questionable. Observer News Services
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