1. Greg Hardy isn’t the Panthers’ only pass rusher.
Make no mistake, Hardy is the Panthers’ most athletic and disruptive edge pass-rusher by a pretty wide margin. But he’s not the only one. Defensive end Mario Addison, who signed a club-friendly extension before training camp, had 2.5 of the team’s four sacks, and tackle Dwan Edwards added 1.5 sacks. One troubling sign: Without Hardy, the rush was not effective until the fourth quarter, when the Lions were forced to throw.
2. The Panthers have ball hawks in the secondary.
Through two games, Carolina is plus-six in turnover margin, and defensive backs have had a hand in five of the six takeaways. Against the Lions, cornerback Antoine Cason stripped Joique Bell and recovered the fumble. Second-year corner Melvin White picked off a Matthew Stafford pass that free safety Thomas DeCoud tipped. For a team that doesn’t blitz a lot, the takeaways are an encouraging sign.
3. Cam Newton’s timing with his receivers wasn’t bad.
Much was made of the limited reps Newton had with his new receiving corps. And there were times Sunday when Newton wasn’t on the same page with the wideouts. But for the most part, Newton was efficient. Three of his incompletions came on drops by rookie Kelvin Benjamin. Newton had more success connecting with newcomers Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery, who combined for nine catches on 11 targets.