Three things to watch in Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game at Jacksonville:
Greg Olsen can’t be targeted every pass play
Or can he? Panthers coach Ron Rivera says the media is creating concern over the receiving corps, and the team isn’t worried about who will pick up the slack with Kelvin Benjamin out for the season. But Carolina will enter the season without a true No. 1 wideout. The Panthers are starting two wideouts vs. the Jaguars who have been used primarily as No. 3 receivers – Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown, who was plagued by drops during the preseason. They’ll need to make a play deep to help open up the middle for Olsen, the Pro Bowl tight end.
Protect the blind side with the Blind Side
Before Benjamin tore his ACL, the Panthers’ biggest question mark on offense was left tackle Michael Oher, who is coming off a disappointing season with Tennessee. But Oher, after having toe surgery during the offseason, played well throughout the preseason. The inspiration for “The Blind Side” book and movie will be tested against Jacksonville defensive end Chris Clemons. The former Seahawks edge rusher had eight sacks in 2014 during his first season with the Jaguars. Keeping Clemons off Cam Newton would be a good start to Oher’s Carolina career.
Make a beeline for Bortles
The Jaguars have their own injury problems when it comes to their passing game. Tight end Julius Thomas, their biggest offseason acquisition, is out for a month following surgery on his broken finger. Second-year wide receiver Marqise Lee has been sidelined with a hamstring issue. That could be troublesome for second-year quarterback Blake Bortles, provided the Panthers produce a pass rush. Bortles was sacked 55 times as a rookie, so look for Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to dial up a few blitzes if the defensive line doesn’t generate enough pressure out of the base 4-3.
Panthers at Jaguars
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.