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Carolina Panthers

What to watch: Panthers at Bills

CAROLINA O-LINE vs. BUFFALO D-LINE: The Panthers feel really good about their starting offensive line, and Buffalo's defensive line presents a really good challenge right off the bat. The Bills' front four features three Pro Bowlers in defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams.

It may just be for one quarter, but Carolina's offensive line has an opportunity to measure itself against arguably the top front in the NFL.

RACE FOR SECOND: Running back is one of the hardest positions to judge during training camp practice, but the preseason opener finally allows us to watch the backs face defenders that will aim to take them to the ground. Jonathan Stewart is Carolina's unquestioned lead back, but the No. 2 role remains open.

Fozzy Whittaker, Jordan Todman and rookie Cameron Artis-Payne will look to force missed tackles and make their case against the Bills.

CREATING SEPARATION: Head coach Ron Rivera said he's impressed with his team's deep group of wide receivers, but a deep group makes for tough decisions come cutdown time.

All the wideouts have had their standout moments during practice. Now it's time to see who makes a couple of plays in game action to separate themselves from the pack.

OPENINGS UP FRONT: With Charles Johnson (calf), Star Lotulelei (foot) and Kawann Short (back) all battling injuries, the door is open for several reserve defensive linemen to get first-team snaps.

Defensive ends Frank Alexander, Kony Ealy, Wes Horton and Mario Addison were in line for first-team snaps anyway as they continue to compete for the starting job opposite Johnson. Friday's game will give us a better indication as to where that competition stands.

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