Skip to main content
Presented by

Five things to watch against Titans: Lights, camera, Jackson 

FiveThings_Thumbnail (1)

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers are still looking for answers on offense, and they get a shot at a team having its own problems at the moment.

The 1-9 Panthers head to Nashville this week to face a 3-7 Titans team that has lost 14 of its last 17 games.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Nissan Stadium. Fans can check out more information on how to watch here.

Here are five things to watch for during the game:

Donte Jackson

One constant in secondary

With CJ Henderson and Jaycee Horn doubtful to play and replacement Dicaprio Bootle hitting IR this week, the Panthers will be relying on veteran cornerback Donte Jackson to provide some stability against DeAndre Hopkins and the Titans.

Since he was inactive in Week 5 against the Lions, Jackson has been playing some of his best football, both against the run and the pass.

"He's been a consistent playmaker," Panthers head coach Frank Reich said. "Been very good in coverage, very, very good all around in the run game.

"He's been a consistent player, a consistent winning player over there. Really is holding things down. Have a lot of trust and confidence in Donte and the way he's playing, I think he brings the confidence in the swagger back there to the back end."

The Panthers could be looking at David Long Jr. as the other starter, with Troy Hill playing his traditional role as passing-down nickel back. They also have D'Shawn Jamison on the 53-man roster and Lamar Jackson and AJ Parker on the practice squad.

Reich said he expects Horn to return soon from his hamstring strain, and Henderson practiced fully the last two days but still has to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he is cleared through the concussion protocol.

Will Levis

Another stop on the pre-draft tour

The Panthers sent their entire offensive staff and a large chunk of the personnel department to see four quarterbacks before drafting Bryce Young first overall.

He's already notched a win over No. 2 pick CJ Stroud but missed a chance to play against Colts pick Anthony Richardson since he was out with a season-ending shoulder injury when they got a chance.

Now it's a meeting with Kentucky's Will Levis, who Young never got a chance to play in college.

Levis has started the last four games, winning once against the Falcons. He's completing 58.9 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns and two interceptions, for an 89.3 passer rating. Their connections bring comparisons, but Young said his focus is on his own work.

"I have a ton of respect for other rookie quarterbacks, know a lot of them well, and I have a ton of respect for them," Young said. "But it's not about me; it's not about just two people. That's not at all how I think, how anyone thinks. It's about the team, it's about the unit. and I play for the guys around me, play for the team, and we all do that.

"So at the end of the day, no matter what, I want to go out there and win for the guys that I'm playing with, for the coaching staff, for the organization, for the fans."

Deion Jones, Frankie Luvu

Tough task for run defense

Of course, it's the Titans, so the offense isn't really about the quarterback.

They're still built around running back Derrick Henry, who is in a bit of a slump. Henry's carried 21 times for 62 yards the last two games and hasn't gotten to the end zone. He's also dealing with an ankle injury.

The Panthers are 24th in the league in run defense and have been piecing things together all season since Shaq Thompson was lost to a broken ankle in Week 2. They've mixed and matched personnel all season and will likely lean toward a heavier personnel group this week.

Uncertainty inside

The Panthers are going to be looking at another combination at guard — again — after right guard Austin Corbett was placed on injured reserve. Against Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, that's no simple task.

Reich didn't want to specify what they were planning, but they've used Chandler Zavala at left guard, leaving some combination of Cade Mays, Brett Toth, and Nash Jensen for the right guard job.

Mays worked at right guard while Corbett recovered from his first knee injury this offseason, while Toth was a midseason pickup from the Eagles who has the kind of versatility to play anywhere across the line.

"Excited about how the guys competed this week and the plan that we have going forward," Reich said. "So we'll just let that unfold and see it on Sunday."

Looking out for the 12s

The Panthers ran the ball well early last week, and it coincided with their most extensive use of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends).

With Hayden Hurst (concussion) still out, the Panthers will be using their two best blocking tight ends — Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble — more often.

That gives them more of a presence up front as they try to control some of the recent problems with pressure, and Tremble has shown he can make plays of his own as a receiver this season.

The David and Nicole Tepper Foundation partnered with the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation for the Bozeman Thanksgiving Bash. The event hosted 1,300 children from the Second Harvest Food Bank Kids' Café program for a special Thanksgiving dinner experience at Top Golf. Panthers players and 80 volunteers helped serve and entertain the kids during a special evening of fun and togetherness.

Related Content