The Carolina Panthers passing attack is dangerous once Cam Newton, Steve Smith, and Greg Olsen get going, and all three of them are squarely on the New York Giants minds as both teams get set to take the field this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET. The absence of starting cornerback Corey Webster (he was downgraded from doubtful to out after not making the trip to Charlotte yesterday) makes it easier for Cam Newton and Steve Smith to have big days, and the Newton-Smith hook-up is of paramount concern for the Giants defense.
This game should end up being a high-scoring affair, because the Carolina Panthers secondary is terribly banged up. They came into the season with concerns at DB, but those concerns are even bigger now that Charles Godfrey is out for the season. Ever-underrated veteran safety Quintin Mikell is also out this week, and both corners Josh Thomas and D.J. Moore (Moore is an emergency safety) are also out. The Panthers might have to start recently re-signed veteran corner Drayton Florence next to the dependable Captain Munnerlyn, and they are already starting UDFA safety Robert Lester next to Mike Mitchell. Against Eli Manning and the multitude of weapons that the New York Giants have, the Panthers defense could be in for a really long day.
At least they have Smith and Newton to counter, and The Star-Ledger’s Dave Hutchinson caught up with Giants starting safety Ryan Mundy, who has done a good job so far this season. Mundy was asked about facing Steve Smith, and he stated that the Giants will try to avoid talking trash with Smitty. He said this about trying to contain Smith, ”You’ve got to compete with him. He’s a very fiery, feisty, competitive type of guy. He’s going to be out on the field going hard every play so we have to match his energy. I’ve played against him before and in watching tape on him, he’s one of those guys that, when it’s time to play, he plays hard. You’ve just got to compete with him and go out there and execute the coverage.”
Smith is still one of the game’s best receivers, and his playmaking ability is accentuated by Newton’s strong arm. But Newton has been throwing shorter passes this year with an average of 9.6 yards per completion as opposed to a career total of 13.2. He’s been hitting TE Olsen most often, as Olsen leads the team with 12 receptions for 140 yards. Mundy was asked about Newton throwing underneath passes and was asked if he thinks the Panthers are doing this on purpose, ”I think it was the first two games of the regular season, so I think they’re still implementing their offense. We know he has a great arm, can make a lot of throws necessary, can throw the ball down the field and they have the receivers and tight end to go vertical. We’re paying attention to that and we know that they are talented at those positions and have the ability to go deep.”