Five Panthers to watch in Thursday night’s exhibition game vs. Eagles

jjones@charlotteobserver.comAugust 14, 2013 

The Carolina Panthers’ second exhibition game against the Eagles on Thursday night will provide Carolina an opportunity to see how its defense reacts to an up-tempo offense, another look at players near the cut line and the depth of its offensive line. Here’s a look at five Panthers to watch:

• David Gettis

Gettis appears to be fighting for the final wide receiver spot along with Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams, and he’s looking for a repeat performance of his three-catch, 56-yard night against Chicago. Gettis wowed fans in his rookie year, but injuries set him back. Gettis has had trouble trusting his hands, though, and he’s made a lot of catches this preseason with his body.

•  Tauren Poole

The Panthers liked what they saw out of Poole last year and kept him around despite the undrafted free agent injuring his ribs early in preseason. Poole rushed for 23 yards on nine carries and was the next running back up after DeAngelo Williams took a seat Friday. If Jonathan Stewart’s ankle isn’t healthy for the first part of the regular season, Poole may find the ball in his hands a few times when the games start counting.

•  Luke Kuechly

Kuechly, last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, may feel like he’s back in college Thursday night against Chip Kelly’s fast-tempo offense. Watch how the middle linebacker directs the defense and shouts out plays just before the snap. What Kuechly says and how he commands the defense will be crucial in stopping the Eagles’ offense.

•  Drayton Florence

The Eagles have already lost Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn for the season with ACL tears, leaving Philadelphia with DeSean Jackson as its only real receiving threat. Florence, an 11-year cornerback, graded out well in his limited action against Chicago, and he’ll likely be on Jackson duty Thursday night.

•  Byron Bell

The starting right tackle left practice early Tuesday with a stomach bug that had been going around the players. He should be healthy for Thursday night, but don’t just watch how he protects Cam Newton’s right side. Bell has been switching to left tackle after Jordan Gross sits due to Bruce Campbell’s shoulder injury – a testament to the lack of depth along Carolina’s front line.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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