With the completion of preseason and team rosters finally trimmed down to the league-mandated 53-man requirement, the start of the 2018 season is merely days away. Football is finally back after what seemed like an eternity of waiting.
For us Dallas Cowboys fans, Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers probably can’t get here soon enough. But, as excited as we may be to see this matchup, the Cowboys pass rushers could and probably are absolutely giddy to take the field.
As much as we, Cowboys fans, have worried about the health of the offensive line, it probably fails in comparison to what Carolina Panthers fans are going through. They are probably dreading to see what the team rolls out along their offensive line in hopes of protecting Quarterback Cam Newton this season. Their OL is that banged up!
Just yesterday, the Panthers placed their starting Left Tackle Matt Kalil on Injured Reserve. They will now have to rely on Taylor Moton, their 2017 second-round draft pick, to start at LT. He hasn’t started a single game since entering the league, which should allow Randy Gregory to feast.
The Panthers other bookend tackle isn’t faring much better. Although, he did recently returned to practice. Right Tackle Daryl Williams sustained a partially torn MCL earlier in the offseason, but made a quicker than expected recovery and is not only back at practice, but should play Week 1 against the Cowboys.
To add more insult to injury (pun intended), the interior of the Panthers offensive line isn’t faring much better. Amini Silatolu was expected to replace Andrew Norewell at offensive guard this season, but he sustained a torn meniscus in August. Surprisingly though, Silatolu has returned to practice, but in what capacity has yet to be determined.
With their starting LT on injured reserve and two of their other starting linemen banged up, the Panthers find themselves in a precarious situation going up against a much improved Dallas Cowboys front four. For the Cowboys though, don’t expect them to show any sympathy. That’s just not how the game is played.
I fully expect the Dallas Cowboys pass rush to be like a shark when they smell blood in the water. They should be in attack mode from the first time they step foot on the field until the final second on the clock ticks away.
Cam Newton may be one of the more difficult quarterbacks to bring down the entire league, but I don’t think Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, or any of the other Cowboys pass rushers will miss an opportunity to put him in the dirt. If things go as I expect, it could be a long night for Newton.