The Panthers had 13 rushing attempts and 33 passing attempts in Week 1, and five of those rushing attempts were by quarterback Cam Newton. Is the offense too one-dimensional, allowing other teams to just key on Cam? – Jill in Tulare, Calif.
The Panthers offense is anything but one-dimensional against most defensive looks, having ranked third in the NFL last year in rushing yards – after a slow start - and 13th in passing yards. Defenses, however, can choose to dictate which way an offense leans, and Tampa Bay sold out against the run last week. Carolina tried to establish the run, but once it became obvious that the Buccaneers were going to consistently crowd the line of scrimmage with eight men in the box, the Panthers turned to passing, finishing with 303 yards through the air.
Do you think that the way the offense played on Sunday was forced by the Tampa defense, or do we need more practice and/or execution? – Jeremy in Greenville, N.C.
As is so often the case, it was a little of both. The Buccaneers were no joke on defense, attacking the line of scrimmage against the run and pass and trusting their skilled secondary to respond when the Panthers looked downfield. At the same time, Tampa Bay's approach put a premium on execution because opportunities were there, and as Newton noted after the game, the execution could have been better.
Do you see the defense being the stronghold of the team this year with opposing teams having more tape on the offense? – Ethan in Corapeake, N.C.
It's sometimes difficult to see the big picture after a loss, but the defense's performance – especially in the second half – bodes well for the season ahead. I'm not ready to say this is going to be a team led by the defense, and that's actually good news. Given the immense capabilities of the offense, this team has a chance to be hard to handle on both sides of the ball, and obviously that's what you want.
With David Gettis on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list), what do you think the chances are of him actually getting a chance to play this season? – Carl in Houma, La.
I just saw Gettis in the locker room Monday, and he was in good spirits. He's certainly working hard, often seen on the sideline during practice rehabbing his injured hamstring. He's not eligible to return until Week 7 at the earliest. I suspect he'll be healthy enough to give it a go, but some of the considerations will be whether the coaches believe he's mentally ready to compete and whether there is room for him given how the rest of the roster is performing at that point.
I am a diehard Panthers fan and have been since their inception. I'd like to know why we can't keep 54 on the roster this year. I thought that was part of the new labor agreement. – Jerod in Tabor City, N.C.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement signed before last season allows for an extra player on game day but not on the roster itself, which remains at 53. Teams now are allowed 46 active players rather than the 45 allowed in the past, though they no longer can designate an "emergency" quarterback among their inactive players. So far under the new rules, the Panthers have always opted to activate another position player rather than a third quarterback.
A lot fans, including myself, thought the Panthers should have kept wide receiver Lamont Bryant. Do you think this guy has a chance to be a real good wideout? – Don in Bostic, N.C.
If rosters were 54 players deep, Bryant might just be in the mix, but instead he's on the eight-man practice squad. The 6-5, 225-pound rookie came on strong late in the preseason, grabbing a 79-yard touchdown reception in the final preseason game. The converted tight end is gaining valuable experience in practice and could end up getting a chance before the season is over. Five of the original eight members of the 2011 practice squad eventually got a shot on the active roster, among them defensive end Thomas Keiser and center Jeff Byers. Two other players later added to the practice squad also ended up on the active roster.
What are the three main things, in your opinion, that the Panthers need to improve on this week against the Saints? – Joe in Charlotte
The veteran offensive line must play like a veteran offensive line; the defense must prevent quarterback Drew Brees from getting in a rhythm for long stretches; and special teams must contain return man Darren Sproles and avoid field-flipping mistakes.