This is obviously a big night for third-round pick Will Grier, who will get his first taste of NFL game action. Grier has the arm talent to make all the throws. How will he handle the live rush? Will his decision-making be quick enough? Here’s his first chance to really prove he’s ready.
On the line
We don’t expect to see much of center Matt Paradis or offensive tackle Daryl Williams tonight with the Panthers looking to play it safe with guys coming off injuries. And we know the starters aren’t going to play more than a handful of snaps anyway. With all that said, rookie offensive linemen Greg Little and Dennis Daley are in line for a lot of work. It’ll be especially interesting to watch Little, the second-round left tackle, to see how he handles the moment.
Feel the Burn
Every fanbase across the league is eager to see their first-round pick in the preseason opener. Brian Burns has been a nightmare to block in one-on-one pass rush drills at camp. Will we see more of the same against Chicago? Those Bears offensive tackles better be quick out of their stance. And how will Burns hold up against the run? We shall see.
All I know is I want to see that Spider-Man sack celebration.
The nickel candidates
Corn Elder seemed to have the early edge at the nickel cornerback spot. Then we saw Cole Luke work his way into the mix with the ones. Then Javien Elliott really started flashing with some plays on the ball.
Rivera has said they are still looking for the answer at nickel. The preseason opener offers a chance for one of those three to turn heads. Elliott, the former Buccaneer, is riding some real momentum after snagging a couple interceptions at training camp. He’s certainly one to keep a close eye on tonight.
The running back situation
There’s a real battle for playing time behind workhorse running back Christian McCaffrey. Veteran Cameron Artis-Payne is trying to hold off young guys like Jordan Scarlett, Elijah Holyfield and Reggie Bonnafon.
Artis-Payne has been a preseason All-Star throughout his career, and the Panthers know what he brings to the table. Scarlett, the team’s fifth-round pick, unfortunately won’t play tonight due to a back injury. That opens the door for Holyfield, an undrafted rookie, to shine in the spotlight.
View photos of the Panthers loading the plane on the way to Chicago for a preseason week 1 matchup.