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Grill Bill: Where's C.J. Anderson?

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Website submission from J Cox in Wake Forest, NC: What is going on with CJ Anderson? His snap count seems to be declining as the season goes on. Is there an issue there? Team trying to keep him fresh for later in the season? Why did we even bother to sign him if we aren't going to use him?

I’ve tried to answer Anderson-related questions multiple times since the season started and I still get them multiple times per week. Not like I blame you guys. I’m just as surprised Anderson hasn’t played more.

The best I can tell you is what Norv Turner told me when I asked him about the “split” in the backfield a few weeks ago: “Christian is the starter.”

It may be as simple as that. Anderson is the backup and we should probably stop assuming there's going to be a timeshare unless and until it happens.

Something that doesn’t help Anderson is how little the Panthers have had the ball this season – relatively. They've had just 64 possessions, fifth-fewest in the league, and they're at 10.6 drives per game, their lowest average since 2013.

Still, it is wild how much McCaffrey is playing – even though Turner and Ron Rivera foreshadowed his huge role before the season.

McCaffrey has played every offensive snap in three of the past four games, and through six games, he’s missed just 16 of a possible 391 snaps. That comes out to 95.9 percent, by far the most playing time of all running backs. The next closest is Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, who’s played 89.0 percent of snaps, according to Football Outsiders.

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Website submission from Sam in Barnsley, United Kingdom: Hi Bill! Do you think Curtis Samuel is quietly flying under the radar as one of our more explosive players? Noticed he had some big plays over the last few weeks. Obviously, the touchdown but also on special teams!

Let’s start with your point about special teams. Sure, he’s got return ability, but did you know:

According to coaches’ stats, though three games, Samuel has three special teams tackles. That’s second only to Ben Jacobs, who has four.

As far as flying under the radar, Samuel is nationally, but not within the fan base. Two touchdowns in his past five touches have folks craving for more.

Which leads to …

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@ATh2o88 When are we going to see Samuels snaps go up? He was easliy the best WR in preseason, and the few snaps he's played since being back. He's made plays After 2 weeks of less than 25% of the snaps, can we expect them to go up?

With Torrey Smith out Sunday, there’s certainly an opportunity for more Samuel. And more DJ Moore.

But also keep an eye out for Damiere Byrd, who’s most familiar with that ‘Z’ position.

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@CamistheGOAT1 Are we gonna establish a running game early and control the clock? Or are we gonna go 3 and out until we’re down 20?

So here’s someone who doesn’t sound like a no-huddle person. And then there’s all the talk from the past week like …

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Website submission from Addi in Chapel Hill, NC: Sup Bill! How much of the no-huddle do you think we will see against Baltimore's stout defense?

Sup.

What struck me most from watching a good bit of the Ravens’ defense the past few days is how much they move before the snap. They constantly use linebackers and defensive backs to show blitz, and their safeties are often moving in and out of the box. Perhaps the no-huddle is a way to counter all that.

Or maybe not.

If you don’t know where the other team is going to be coming from because they’re so good at disguising, how will you know who to block and where? In other words, if the Panthers are going to break out the no-huddle this week, it needs to be in situations where they believe they have the Ravens figured out.

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Website submission from Kalani in Southern Pines, NC: If we do not want to go up-tempo can we at least get to the line of scrimmage faster? We seem to struggle to get the ball snapped on time and this would eliminate negative plays. Where does Carolina rank on delay of game penalties?

According to nflpenalties.com, the Panthers’ three delay of game penalties ties them for second-most with three other teams that have all played one extra game. But the team with the most, Green Bay, has four such penalties in six games.

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Website submission from Matthew in Augusta, GA: Just wondering if anyone else got déjà vu during the Eagles game last weekend? And no I’m not referencing the Washington game. I’m talking about in 2013 when the Panthers defeated the Dolphins in Miami. Down 10 at the half, then completed a game-winning drive on a 4th and 10 to Steve Smith and then at the 1 completed a pass to Greg Olsen to seal the win. Not to mention from the same spot and formation as last week against the Eagles...?

Tremendous memory from you, Matthew.

From Cam Newton barely beating pressure to a wideout who picked up some YAC to play-action setting up Olsen, these are wildly similar:

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@alwys1hunnid What do you think about making a trade for #PatrickPeterson?

Don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility, though the Cardinals seem intent on keeping him around.

The Panthers don’t have a lot of cap space, but teams tend to figure out ways to make stuff like that work when it’s worth it.

Would what Arizona want back be worth it, though?

Dunno, but I’d be open to a conversation.

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Website submission from Wesley in Charlotte: Why does our defense play such soft coverage? Our cornerbacks give 10-15 yards of cushion on each play. This allows free releases we should be up on receivers and at least try to knock the WR off their route.

Typically, that's how they help limit their opponents’ ground games.

The deal Carolina's coaches are willing to make is you can have some dink and dunks as long as it improves their chances at shutting down the run, which as we all should know by now is the Panthers' No. 1 goal no matter who they’re playing.

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Website submission from Mason in Kannapolis, NC: With the NFL getting into its games in London, I'm wondering about David Tepper's feelings on that. Has he mentioned whether or not he's a fan of playing an international game (either London or Mexico City)?

Not only does he want to make stronger connections with fans throughout both Carolinas, but he also wants to expand the Panthers’ footprint beyond borders. So you can assume he’s all-in for an international game. When that’ll be is the only question.

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Website submission from Jorge in Rancagua, VI Regióin: Hello Bill ... Being almost halfway through the season and seeing the Panthers in the middle of the other teams .... Can we get excited about reaching the Super Bowl? Do you think that with playing our best football and beating the Saint or the Rams? Sorry my English, it's with the translator ... Greetings from Chile!

Hola, Jorge.

The Rams sure look like the class of the NFC. But we’ve seen teams get off to fast starts before (think: Kansas City over the past few years) only to disappoint come playoff time.

So, sure, the Panthers would likely have to play their best to have any chance to beat the Rams or even the Saints, but with so much football left to be played, I’m not even penciling anyone into the Super Bowl just yet.

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@panthrsfan123 Is there any chance Daryl Williams comes back at the end of his stint on IR, shifting Moton to LT?

No.

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@MightyMiteF3 _It looked like Cam had some completed passes that traveled over 20 yards in the air last week. Or did my eyes deceive me?

Yup, there were two: the 28-yard, fourth-quarter dart to Jarius Wright which came two plays before the touchdown to Devin Funchess. That one reads as just 18 yards on the official scoresheet, but it did travel more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.

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Website submission from Fred in Cleveland, NC: I've been noticing the graphic t-shirts Coach Rivera has been wearing at his Monday pressers. Who designs them and prints them and can they be purchased somewhere??

I committed some real journalism and asked him. Here’s what he said: “All I know is when I walk into my office, there’s a new T-shirt on my chair.”

Then he directed me to the fairy tale about the shoemaker and the elves.

Eat your heart out, Bob Woodward.

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