The Carolina Panthers find themselves in an unusual state of flux for a team off to a perfect 3-0 start. Leading up to Sunday’s game against division foe Tampa Bay, the Panthers are dealing with personnel changes, key injuries and some off-field controversy involving their high-profile quarterback and a well-known referee. – New defensive end Jared Allen practiced for the first time Wednesday, one day after the team’s top pass rusher Charles Johnson was placed on eight-week injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
The surprising Falcons seek their second 4-0 start in 11 seasons Sunday when they host perhaps their toughest challenge yet in the Houston Texas, who could get Arian Foster back. Matt Ryan threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to Julio Jones last Sunday as Atlanta rallied from a 14-point deficit for a 39-28 win at Dallas. Jones, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has been Ryan’s favorite target with NFL highs of 34 catches and 440 yards.
Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly signed lucrative extensions with the Carolina Panthers this offseason to anchor their respective sides of the ball for many years to come. Newton’s latest performance helped the Panthers get off to their best start in 12 years, but Kuechly hasn’t taken the field since suffering a concussion in the opening week. The defense – with the addition of a veteran pass rusher – again could be without Kuechly as it looks to make life difficult for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie quarterback Jameis Winston on Sunday in Florida.