A cross-country trek to one of the NFL’s toughest venues got a tad more difficult for the Carolina Panthers with Young, their franchise quarterback, forced to watch from the sidelines nursing an ankle injury. Dalton seems up for the task and the Panthers (0-2) will need a solid outing from the veteran quarterback in the Pacific Northwest to stymie the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) at Lumen Field on Sunday.
Here’s a quick rundown of three things fans should know about the Panthers’ opponent and a couple of players to keep their eye on:
DK is A-OK
One of the league’s most feared wide receivers is apparently feeling just fine.
A few eyebrows likely were raised during the week when Seattle star wideout DK Metcalf appeared on the injury list and didn’t practice at all on Thursday. Metcalf had a pretty good collision at the goal line in the Seahawks’ 37-31 victory in Detroit last Sunday and took a shot to the ribs.
Metcalf briefly exited the game but trotted on the field again not long after and wound up totaling six receptions for 75 yards to lead Seattle’s receiving corps. Keeping him off the practice field leading up to their date with the Panthers was just to preserve Metcalf to make sure he’s ready to go against Carolina. He’s listed as questionable, but sounds like he expects to play.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Metcalf told reporters. “I’m always at 100 percent.”
Metcalf has nine catches for 122 yards and a touchdown with a 28-yarder as his longest play so far.
Jamal Adams’ status unclear
It’s been a year since Seattle All-Pro safety Jamal Adams tore his quadriceps tendon, and even though he’s making considerable progress, there’s still no guarantee he will return against the Panthers.
Officially listed as questionable, Adams participated in practice in full on Wednesday, marking the first time he’s done that since coming off the physically unable to perform list in late August. In his buildup to getting on the practice field with his teammates, Adams was able to do walkthroughs along with his individual work.
But Seattle doesn’t want to rush Adams and could take a more cautious approach.
“He practiced really well,” Carroll told reporters following Friday’s session. “He’s as close as he can get to going and we’ll see how this winds up. He’ll be in the middle of it next week for sure.
“I’m really excited for him. He’s done a fantastic job of conditioning and being on it so consistently that he’s created an opportunity for him to get back here.”
The leaks are plugged
Rushing the ball against Seattle wasn’t the toughest of things to do last season.
Besides yielding 152 yards per game to the opposition on the ground in 2022, the Seahawks also surrendered 4.9 yards per attempt. They were dead last in the league in each category, leading to that having to be addressed during the offseason.
So far, so good in that regard.
Heading into Week 3, Seattle ranks third in the league in rush defense. They have held their foes to 2.9 yards per carry, which puts them behind Indianapolis and Tennessee.
That could spell problems for Carolina’s already anemic offensive attack. The Panthers do rank 10th in the league in rushing thanks in part to Miles Sanders’ 125 yards on the ground, but it could be a long afternoon if Seattle makes them one-dimensional.
Fantasy football sleeper picks
QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks, WR: After a slow start in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, in which he passed for slightly more than 100 yards, Smith put up numbers in Week 2 that has him seemingly back on track to being a top-tiered option at quarterback. He had a 116.3 rating thanks to completing 78% of his attempts for 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception in the first two games and the Panthers have a minus-3 turnover ratio. So, there’s a good possibility Smith’s good fortunes taking care of the ball will continue.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks, WR: Although he has yet to have a huge breakout game, the rookie could be poised to post one against the Panthers. Selected with the 20th pick in April’s draft, Smith-Njigba was the first player at his position taken off the board ahead of San Diego’s Quentin Johnson, Baltimore’s Zay Flowers and Minnesota’s Jordan Addison — a nod to the talents of the Ohio State product. He drew the second-most targets (six) in Seattle’s 37-31 win over Detroit, but recorded just 34 yards on five receptions. The rookie is getting the looks and maybe this is the week he’ll cash in on more of them.
DJ Chark, Carolina Panthers, WR: A hamstring injury shelved Chark in Atlanta in Week 1 and he returned for Monday’s loss to New Orleans, nabbing one pass for 15 yards. But with Dalton under center this week, his production may increase. Chark raved about Dalton’s veteran presence and mentioned how the two have had plenty of reps together during training camp. The Panthers’ hope a potential connection between the two can assist in pushing the offense past the 13.5 points its averaging.