Limping into Sundays contest against the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers will try to establish the run. Carolina finished the 2011 season ranked third in the NFL in rushing, but that production has failed to show up this season as the Panthers rushing attack has slipped to 17th in the league.
Following the firing of general manager Marty Hurney on Monday, many changes are expected throughout the organization. One blogger for the Charlotte Observer, Joseph Person, believes that the Panthers are in the process of recreating their offense based on last weeks personnel packages.
This likely coincides with the Panthers shift from the zone read package to more reliance on a power running game," Person writes. "Based on last weeks game against Dallas- when power-running Jonathan Stewart received the bulk of the work its clear the Panthers are trying to re-create themselves offensively.
While the Panthers have been underwhelming on offense, the team has shown positive signs of things to come defensively. First-round draft pick (ninth overall) Luke Kuechly has exceeded expectations. Originally slated to play outside linebacker, an injury to Jon Beason forced the Panthers to move the former Boston College standout to middle linebacker. The results have been outstanding, as pointed out by Ron Green Jr. of the Observer.
In his two games at middle linebacker, Kuechly has accumulated 34 tackles, 21 of them solo takedowns, wrote Green Jr. Thats reminiscent of the numbers he put up at Boston College, where he became the NCAAs second all-time leading tackler despite leaving after his junior season.
Carolinas defense will have their hands full on the road against the new-look Chicago Bears. In order to succeed, Kuechly and company will need to keep the Bears offense at bay to make up for Chicagos stingy defense that has allowed the fewest points in the NFL through six games.
Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.
The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.
The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.
The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.
The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.
Here's a look at the full schedule:
Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21.
Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.
All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.
The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players.
The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.