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NFL: JUL 31 Carolina Panthers Training Camp

by Sharon Thorsland

It’s the preseason finale for the Panthers, who take on the Lions at Bank of America Stadium on Friday night. Kick-off is set for 8:00. The starters are once again set to play at least a series or two, and coach Frank Reich is looking for some successful drives to end the preseason. “You usually want your guys going out after a positive drive,” said Reich. “The Lions are a good football team, a team that was really hot last year at the end of the year. So it will be a great opportunity for us.”

That hot finish for the Lions saw them win 8 of their final 10 games, although one of the losses was a beat down at the hands of the Panthers. None of their starters are expected to play in this game, though, so Bryce Young and company will hopefully be able to move the football. Detroit’s defense was absolutely awful last season, they ranked dead last in the NFL allowing over 392 yards per game. With star players like Aidan Hutchinson and CJ Gardner-Johnson on the sidelines, keep an eye out for former Ardrey Kell standouts Julian and Romeo Okwara and first round draft pick Jack Campbell, who could end up starting at linebacker this season. One thing to definitely keep an eye on is the right guard position for the Panthers as they continue to look for someone to step up in Austin Corbett’s absence. Rookie Chandler Zavala will get the start after playing fairly well last week against the Giants.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff will be sitting this one out so it will be former Panther Teddy Bridgewater splitting reps with Nate Sudfeld. The Lions had an impressive offense last season that ranked fourth in the league and featured a ton of weapons. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is back, with former Bears running back David Montgomery taking over the ground attack along with Jahmyr Gibbs, the rookie out of Alabama. A trio of rookies will start at receiver in this game, including former UNC standout Antoine Green.

While the Panthers would certainly like to end the preseason on a high note and get a win, that’s not the main goal for this game. Instead this one is about the guys fighting for positions and roster spots. Coach Reich and his staff are going to be looking for players to step up when the lights are on. And even though they take into account a player’s entire preseason body of work, this game can be a make or break opportunity for guys. “I want these guys to know it’s amazing how much impact one last good game can make,” said Reich. “It can make the difference in you making this team or you making another team. So we come into this last game, there are still opportunities for everyone.”

Panthers looking to end Preseason with a Win vs. Lions  was originally published on