Early thoughts on Panthers-Dolphins

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — That is Carolina Panther power football. Opening drive is what they do best. Lot of power runs and a few intermediate passes.

Talking to scouts about this game, they all expected the Panthers to run right at the Dolphins’ older outside linebackers — Joey Porter and Jason Taylor — as much as possible. Those guys aren’t great against the run and can wear down. Carolina dropped back three straight times inside the red zone, which is notĀ its style, and ended up stalling and settling for three points.

I have a gut feeling WR Steve Smith has a big game. He has been getting back in sync with QB Jake Delhomme and is starting to stretch the field again. That pre-game fender bender won’t derail him and he’ll be telling Delhomme in the huddle that he can beat either of Miami’s rookie corners, no doubt.

Look for Ricky Williams to feature in Miami’s Wildcat in place of Ronnie Brown. I have a feeling maybe Ted Ginn gets involved in that misdirection role Williams used to run in the Wildcat, when Brown was in the shotgun.

Defensive end Julius Peppers is expected to play only on passing downs because of his broken hand, but he’s played with it before (in 2007) and each week he gets a little more mobility as the cast is cut down. The Panthers expect him to be able to play without the cast in roughly two more weeks.

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