Five questions on the Carolina Panthers with Cat Scratch Reader

The Buffalo Bills opened their season with a two-score win over the New York Jets on Sunday, but a bigger test comes this weekend as the team travels to Charlotte to take on a Carolina Panthers team that scored a resounding 23-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers. I asked Bradley Smith of Cat Scratch Reader, our Panthers blog at SB Nation, to see what we can expect out of Ron Rivera’s squad on Sunday.

The Panthers, like the Bills, scored a win on Sunday over a team that will probably be picking in the top two of next year’s draft. Who impressed you, and who are you disappointed with after Week 1?

The entire defense was impressive on Sunday, notably Thomas Davis, Kurt Coleman and Star Lotulelei. Luke Kuechly’s interception was also quite impressive. I was disappointed in Cam Newton’s first half where he showed obvious signs of rust, but fortunately he was able to improve in the second half and should be better this week now that he has some game action under his belt.

Cam Newton completed only eight of 19 first-half passes for 105 yards, with a touchdown and a pick. He was much better in the second half, completing all six of his throws for 66 yards and a score. Is he fully healthy, or is he just a little rusty from a preseason of inactivity?

I don’t know if I can call him “fully healthy” yet, but he’s getting there. Most of his issues in the first half against the 49ers appeared to be rust from not getting much action during the preseason. Him looking better in the second half seems to support that theory.

While former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is now running the show in Buffalo, the team stayed in-house for his replacement. How has Steve Wilks been doing with the defense, and how does it resemble what McDermott had been doing for the last six years?

Wilks has stepped in nicely for McDermott. The Panthers appear to be playing a little more man-to-man coverage than they did with McDermott, and they also appear to be more aggressive. Other…

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