Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans with Jonathan and Joe
Three things to watch in Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game against the Houston Texans:
It will take a team effort up front
There’s no one on the Panthers’ offensive line who can consistently block defensive end J.J. Watt 1-on-1. Watt’s too big, quick and powerful. So Carolina will likely try to do what other teams have in an attempt to contain Watt: Keep a tight end in as an extra blocker, using a running back to chip him and running away from him. But the Texans have play-makers throughout their front seven, including linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Brian Cushing and enormous nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Cam Newton will be ready to run.
Can Kony Ealy cause a disruption?
Ealy, the second-year defensive end, did the “dirty work” last week at Jacksonville, according to Panthers coach Ron Rivera. Ealy was not credited with a tackle or a pressure in the official stats, although he said coaches gave him three pressures. Ealy likely will be lined up against left tackle Chris Clark, who is expected to start in place of Duane Brown, listed as questionable with a thumb injury. Clark was a starter on the Broncos’ Super Bowl team two years ago. But Ealy needs to find a way to get past him.
Ginn could have a chance to break one
Texans punter Shane Lechler, in his 16th season, has a strong leg. Lechler’s 47.5-yard gross average is the best in league history. But Lechler can outkick his coverage, as he did against Kansas City. Lechler averaged 47 yards per punt against the Chiefs, but his net was 32.6 yards. The Chiefs’ De’Anthony Thomas had five returns, all covering at least 14 yards. Ted Ginn Jr.’s 11.2-yard career punt return average ranks third among active players. Ginn, who had a 37-yard return in Week 1, should have some room to work with Sunday.
Texans at Panthers
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
Sunday, 1 p.m.