CHARLOTTE – Luke Kuechly has never beaten Tyrod Taylor.
The Panthers linebacker and Bills quarterback haven't matched up in the NFL, but at Boston College, Kuechly's Eagles lost their two matchups with Taylor and Virginia Tech by a combined score of 67-14.
Seven years after their last meeting, Kuechly's team is much better than the one that surrounded him at Boston College, but he's still wary of the challenge Carolina could face in Sunday's home opener.
"(Taylor's) got moves like a running back or wide receiver," Kuechly said, "but I think people see that so much they don't appreciate his ability to throw the ball."
Taylor led NFL quarterbacks with 580 rushing yards last season, but he took a step back as a passer, tossing just 17 touchdowns to go with six interceptions. This spring, the Bills considered releasing Taylor until he took a significant pay cut. But in Week 1, he again looked like the guy who earned a five-year, $90-million extension after the 2015 season.
Sure, it was against the Jets, a team expected to compete for the No. 1 draft choice. But New York has six former first-rounders on its defense and Taylor helped trigger an offensive explosion that totaled 23 first downs and 408 yards.
While Taylor was the spark, running back LeSean McCoy torched the Jets for 159 total yards, including 110 yards on 22 carries. It was McCoy's NFL-leading 35th game with 100-plus rushing yards since 2010 and it improved his teams' records in those games to 30-5. So obviously, slowing down McCoy is imperative for the Panthers, particularly on third down.
Against the Jets, McCoy was responsible for six of the Bills' eight third-down conversions. Two of those were receptions of 18-plus yards that led to touchdowns.
Telling you McCoy is good isn't breaking any sort of news, but what makes him good?
"His vision, athleticism and mindset," said Panthers cornerback Kevon Seymour, who was traded to Carolina earlier this month after spending the past year and a half with McCoy in Buffalo.
"He has a killer mindset," Seymour continued. "No matter who's in front of him, no matter who he's going against, he's going to make plays regardless. That's what he's thinking – he can do it anytime, anywhere."
Perhaps, but in his previous games against the Panthers – both for the Eagles – McCoy totaled 65 rushing yards and negative-one receiving yards.
Still, while much of the focus this week centers on folks who used to be in Carolina, Taylor – and especially McCoy – have enough talent to pose a threat to the Panthers' potential 2-0 start.
"(McCoy's) kind of like Christian (McCaffrey)," Kuechly said. "He can be moving one way full speed and the next second he's moving the other way at full speed. It's fun to watch, it's fun to play against, but you've got to make sure you know what you're doing because if you take one bad angle or you overrun it, he's going to be going the other way."