The Panthers open their preseason schedule tonight at Baltimore (8 p.m.).
They've had two weeks of camp and a scrimmage to prepare, but the real evaluations start tonight. Here are five players to watch to see how they progress against actual opponents.
QB Matt Moore
Teammates have raved about the way he's handled his promotion to the starting job. He'll get only a quarter or less tonight to prove himself, but it's the way he's handled the leadership of a young team that has impressed other players.
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While the sluggish offense during the Fan Fest scrimmage wasn't his fault alone, he needs to pick it up and make a few plays downfield rather than relying on check-downs.
WR Armanti Edwards
Expect to see him returning lots of punts and kicks, because that's going to be his initial chance to make an impact here. He's still working to learn how to play receiver, and the challenges of starting each play without the ball in his hands has been considerable.
After some early struggles, he's improved catching the ball, which is an important start. The hope is he can get comfortable enough with it to take advantage of his on-field speed quickness.
DE Everette Brown
Last year's top pick has a chance to do the thing he does best - rush the passer. Now we'll see how good he is at it. Brown will get work in the first quarter when they go to their nickel package, which should set him up to face Baltimore's Michael ("The Blind Side") Oher. It'll be interesting to see how he holds up, given his offseason addition of weight.
If Brown can get to opposing quarterbacks on a regular basis, the Panthers defensive overhaul has a much better chance of working, and will keep them from having to blitz more than they want to.
SS Sherrod Martin
His first chance to start a game in place of Chris Harris. He's got the physical tools, but went through a stretch of camp when coaches were frustrated with his decision-making. Part of his problem is he played so well in last year's spot-starts that he raised expectations, so he's not being treated like a typical young player.
Martin's got plenty of speed to cover his deep half of the field, and can come up and hit, but he needs to be a better communicator to make sure the secondary stays on the same page.
RG Duke Robinson
Will probably play with the second team tonight, but it'll be interesting to see how he reacts.
With his power, he should be good help for double teams on Baltimore's big nose tackles, but with more space against a 3-4 front, he'll also have to move a bit to make some blocks. It will also be the first extended action for him since starting camp out of shape, so it's worth watching how long he's able to play effectively.