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Five things to watch vs. Atlanta: Rematch on Thursday night


CHARLOTTE – The Panthers were probably ready to let go of what happened in Cincinnati last week as soon as they finished reviewing the tape.

It was easier to flush the Week 9 blowout loss to the Bengals because of the short week as Carolina prepares for a divisional showdown on Thursday night.

The Panthers host the Falcons (4-5) at Bank of America Stadium for a Thursday Night Football showdown kicking off at 8:15 p.m.

Less than two weeks have passed since Carolina lost in an overtime heartbreaker to Atlanta, so there's familiarity and perhaps an extra bit of juice flowing.

And the Panthers will be in all-black uniforms, debuting those black helmets too.

Here are five things to watch in Week 10:


Not much has changed since the Panthers met the Falcons just before Halloween, but Atlanta has gotten one big piece back for its run-heavy offense.

Running back Cordarrelle Patterson didn't play in the Week 8 matchup while he remained on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The Rock Hill, S.C.-native returned last week for the Falcons' matchup with the Chargers and posted 53 scrimmage yards with two touchdowns in just 38.3 percent of offensive snaps. Patterson averaged 92 scrimmage yards in Weeks 1-4 before the knee injury, but the Panthers are keeping him on their radar.

"I think he's a dynamic player, run game as well as in the kicking game," interim coach Steve Wilks said. "He's definitely going to create a spark for them. We've got to do a great job of stopping the run this week."

Wilks is right. Carolina gave up five touchdowns to Cincinnati's Joe Mixon last week as the Bengals' rush offense soared to its best performance of the year, putting up a season-best 241 yards on the ground.

The Falcons bring the league's fourth-best rushing offense to Charlotte, while the Panthers rank fifth-worst in rushing defense.


The Panthers didn't have much time to recover from an assortment of injuries, particularly on defense, but the last injury report offered some good news for key contributors.

Defensive tackle Derrick Brown missed the second half against Cincinnati with an illness, but he is expected to be good to go for the Falcons game. Defensive end Brian Burns will also play against Atlanta after dealing with a shoulder injury throughout the Bengals game.

Cornerback Donte Jackson is listed as questionable with the ankle injury that has been nagging him for the last several weeks. He was active for the Cincinnati game but didn't play, and Keith Taylor Jr. took more snaps.

Defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (neck) and right tackle Taylor Moton (elbow) are also questionable this week. Rookie Marquan McCall would likely see more snaps if Ioannidis cannot go, and Cameron Erving would likely fill in at Moton's spot along the offensive line.

Safety Juston Burris (concussion) and wide receiver Rashard Higgins (illness) will not play for the second week. In Burris' absence, defensive back Myles Hartsfield will retain his prominent role in the Panthers' secondary.

Wilks said he did not expect safety Jeremy Chinn (hamstring) to play since being designated to return to practice from injured reserve this week. On a short week, the Panthers did not practice in pads, so Chinn has not seen the field at full speed since leaving the Week 4 game against the Cardinals with the injury.

"I doubt very likely that I would put him in that situation to play this week," Wilks said. "With a day of walk-through, he hasn't practiced or played in six weeks; that's really asinine."


PJ Walker will start at quarterback for the fifth consecutive time, even after he was benched in the second half against Cincinnati for Baker Mayfield.

Walker put up 9 yards on 3-of-10 passing in the first half last week, heading up a stagnant offensive performance that included just one first down off a Bengals' penalty and 32 total yards.

Mayfield performed better than before he was sidelined with an ankle injury for Week 6, helping Carolina put up three second-half touchdowns.

But Wilks said he opted to go with Walker again on a short week, given that Walker had a more positive performance against Atlanta than he did at Cincinnati.

"I just felt like in the short week, just giving him the opportunity to go back with the game plan, what we're going to put together, what he did against Atlanta before," Wilks said. "Hopefully, we can get a spark out of the offense.

Although Sam Darnold has been placed on the active roster for the first time this season since suffering a preseason ankle injury, Wilks said Mayfield would back up Walker again. Wilks said Monday he didn't seem certain Darnold would be active for the Falcons game.

"We have other positions that we've got to make sure we're efficient in, from a standpoint of depth," Wilks said. "Right now, Baker is the backup, so I know Baker is dressing."


The Panthers had multiple chances to beat the Falcons last time they played, piecing together a solid offensive performance in the second half. Walker went 13-of-21 passing for 250 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter, and the game could've been clinched by a 62-yard touchdown pass from Walker to DJ Moore. But Eddy Piñeiro missed a 48-yard extra point try, pushed back by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Moore for removing his helmet after the play.

Moore has owned up to the play when asked about it multiple times since the game and said he "shouldn't have (done) it to begin with."

Piñeiro later missed a game-winning 32-yard field goal attempt in overtime. He hasn't attempted a field goal since the Atlanta game, but he made all three extra-point attempts (from 33 yards out) in Cincinnati.

Carolina also let the Falcons put up 167 rush yards (without Patterson), including a late Marcus Mariota scramble for 30 yards that set up for Atlanta's eventual game-winning field goal.


Hurricane Nicole is expected to impact the Carolinas late Thursday, with bands of rain and wind expected to reach Charlotte during the game.

Wilks said the Panthers have been aware of the forecast, and they are readying for the possibility of a rainy football game.

"We always try to make sure that we stay on top of the weather," Wilks said. "I thought it was going to be late, midnight Thursday night. Now it's saying it's going to come in a little earlier. We have talked about wet balls and those kind of things, trying to prep and prepare ourselves for it."

Check out the best photos from Tuesday's practice as the Panthers wore the new black helmets in anticipation of their debut on Thursday Night Football.