-- The Panthers are playing their best football of the year the last three weeks. But if they keep losing a Pro Bowl-caliber player per week, it won't last.
As dumb as it sounds, losing LT Jordan Gross to a broken left ankle can be withstood because LG Travelle Wharton's pretty good there too. He's had 33 starts at LT, and was good enough there to keep Gross at RT for a while.
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The pressure's on new LG Mackenzy Bernardeau. He has some Hangartner in him, but no experience.
Also, this is where I should mention an idea I've had for some time: He should go by Mack Bernardo. Looks tougher that way, or at least less French.
-- Nice to see QB Jake Delhomme actively involved in winning a game, instead of not losing or just barely losing.
The biggest key to the no-huddle? They let him call his own plays. He's always been a rhythm passer, and it was clear he was in one today.
-- Not sure why it's so hard for John Fox to just say that DE Julius Peppers has a broken right hand. Clearly, he's wearing a big ol' cast for a reason.
Not only is he limited to passing downs because of it, he's also limited to playing RDE. Can't put the right hand down, which he'd need to on the other side.
We'll see as the weeks go by how much it hampers him.
-- Know what's goofy? The 4-5 Panthers are a game out of the wild card chase.
-- They are, in part, because Falcons QB Matt Ryan's looking human.
He's a good one, and will be for years. But right now he looks like a guy adjusting to good competition, instead of the Raiders, Chiefs, Rams and other dregs he got to play last year as a rookie.
Also, he's a kid. Still learning. He'll be fine.
-- The Falcons will miss RB Michael Turner more than the Panthers will miss Gross. Doesn't mean Turner's better.
They were saying high ankle sprain, and that's no good for Ryan or the Falcons.
-- Nothing against Charles Godfrey, but he's a backup now.
FS Sherrod Martin's played better in three games that Godfrey did in 22.
He should, he's older, and he's a safety. Those things help.
-- The trickle-down effect of the Gross injury? They lack a backup center now.
Bernardeau's behind Ryan Kalil on the depth chart. If something happened to Kalil, they'd have to move Mac over, because none of the other backups can snap.
Does that mean C-G Dustin Fry gets moved up from the practice squad? Maybe.
If not, there are a few veteran swingmen available.
-- I don't think I noticed WLB Landon Johnson today.
That's probably best.
-- Credit Jason Baker for the best punter hit since Todd Sauerbrun.
Biggest difference? People like Baker.