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Five things to watch at Miami: Defensive depth 

Frankie Luvu

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers wrap up two straight weeks on the road this week.

Carolina (0-5, 0-2 NFC South) takes on the Miami Dolphins (4-1, 1-1 AFC East) on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, looking to end the early stretch with its first win before next week's bye.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Miami. Fans can check out more information on how to watch here.

Here are five things to check out during the game.

Defensive injury watch

The Panthers know they're going to need some more from the established starters who will be available at Miami, including linebacker Frankie Luvu and cornerback Donte Jackson.

And they're also going to need to see a high level of play from the depth players behind the multiple defensive starters who are either out or questionable for the Week 6 matchup.

Without both starting safeties in Xavier Woods (hamstring) and Vonn Bell (quadriceps), there will be weight on Sam Franklin Jr. and practice squad call-up Matthias Farley to lead in the backfield.

Jaycee Horn remains on injured reserve, meaning CJ Henderson will continue to see more work at cornerback in Carolina's banged-up secondary.

With questionable designations, there remains the possibility they could go without two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Burns (ankle) or stalwart defensive tackle Derrick Brown (knee/ankle) along the defensive front, which could spell more reps for players such as outside linebackersYetur Gross-Matos, Amaré Barno, andDJ Johnson, as well as interior defensive linemen LaBryan Ray and Nick Thurman.

Veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston hasn't eclipsed 60 percent of the defensive snaps all season. He played in just 20 percent of the defensive snaps at Detroit in Week 5, and totaled 38 percent of the snaps in Week 4 against the Vikings.

Facing the Dolphins' offense

Regardless of statuses on the final injury report, the Panthers will have to face the league's top-ranked offense in points (181), total yards (2,568), first downs (124), passing yards (929), and rushing touchdowns (12). They'll face the league's most productive receiver (Tyreek Hill, 651 receiving yards and five touchdowns) and quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa, 1,614 passing yards).

It's a big challenge, and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said as much this week. Between Hill, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, and running back Raheem Mostert, the Dolphins simply do not lack for weapons along the offensive side.

And that's without Miami's rising star rookie running back De'Von Achane, who was placed on injured reserve this week with a knee issue and won't play against Carolina.

"They're definitely dynamic," Evero said. "A lot of speed; Hill, Waddle, the backs – they've got a lot of explosive players. I think (head coach) Mike McDaniel is as good of an offensive coach as there is in the league. And you saw that effect he had when he was with the Niners. Obviously, he's bringing it over to Miami. They've done a great job with their design, and not just him, his entire staff. So yes, they're tough to deal with. And it's going to be a great challenge."

More from Young into Week 6

Miami head coach Mike McDaniel praised what he had seen from rookie quarterback Bryce Young as he previewed the Dolphins' matchup with the Panthers this week. As Young looks to lead to his first win, he may lean into what McDaniel said he saw – throwing passes designed for getting yards after the catch (YAC).

The Panthers' offense hasn't been overly productive, standing at 22nd in the NFL in passing offense with 992 yards. But they are 16th in the league in YAC (543, or 54.7 percent).

Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown explained how Young is able to throw those type of effective passes to receivers such as Adam Thielen and Hayden Hurst.

"I think being able to throw a catchable ball means understanding who you're throwing to, the timing, the space," Brown said. "When it comes to underneath routes, deeper throws, but also leading receivers from an angle standpoint, so they can have catch-and-run opportunities, which is gonna be huge for us every week."

More offense will be a key against Miami's speed and scoring ability, so a big day for Young through the air would be a boost.

Laviska Shenault Jr.

Run game variety

Without starting running back Miles Sanders, who is out for the Dolphins game with a shoulder injury, the Panthers have more options for Chuba Hubbard and even hybrid wideout-running back Laviska Shenault Jr. to get some carries and add another dimension of the offense.

Hubbard is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt, the best of any Carolina running back, and he said he has been looking forward to making the most of his chances.

"Whatever opportunity I get, I'm going to try to make the most of it," Hubbard said. "Glad I'm able to be a part of the offense. Like I've always said, got a great scheme, got a great O-line, great everything around us. So I'm just trying to make the most of it."

Meanwhile, Shenault is settling in to a more versatile role in this offense, as he called the backfield his "sweet spot" this week.

"I feel like (rushing) is the easiest thing when it comes to mental," Shenault said. "Like, I'm getting the ball. …

"When I say running back's the easiest for me, (it's) because I'm used to touching it a lot. I like to get the ball in my hands. I have the opportunity to make guys miss and do that. I feel like that's what I do at a high level. And it works out well."

Cade Mays, Bryce Young

Protecting Young

Young was only sacked once last week in Detroit, an improvement from weeks before. (He took two against Atlanta, four against the Saints, and a season-high five against the Vikings.)

Protecting Young is going to be imperative in Week 6, as the offensive line is without much of its starting interior. Rookie left guard Chandler Zavala won't play as he didn't practice this week while he rehabs the neck injury sustained last Sunday in Detroit; mainstay right guard Austin Corbett is still working to come back from last season's ACL injury, and Week 1 starting left guard Brady Christensen remains out for the season with a biceps injury from the season opener.

So they're going to need to see protection from Cade Mays, who slotted in for Zavala at left guard against the Lions, and Calvin Throckmorton, who took the guard spot on the right after they moved Zavala over following Christensen's injury.

View photos from the Panthers' practice on Thursday.

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