Panthers winning with McCaffrey already, Newton heads to IR

Packers

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 03: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 03, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

It’s the news many expected after Cam Newton’s visit with Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay. Despite reports of no surgery required for Newton’s ankle injury, he’s heading to injured reserve.

The 2015 league MVP only played in the first two games this season while he comes back from a foot injury. Newton threw for 333 yards in his final game of 2019, but wasn’t much of a running threat and accounted for -2 yards on the ground this season.

Usually a team heading to face the Packers in Lambeau Field without their star quarterback would appear to be a victory for the green and gold. That’s not necessarily true this year with the emergence of Cody Allen and running back Christian McCaffrey quickly becoming an MVP candidate.

McCaffrey has shouldered much of the load for the Panthers offense this season. The third year back is averaging 110 yards a game, more than 30 above last year, with ten rushing touchdowns so far in 2019.

Green Bay won’t have to look far to find someone with a unique perspective on McCaffrey. Linebacker Blake Martinez played with McCaffrey in college, and does remain in contact with his former teammate.

“We go back and forth on random things, and talk about the season, stuff like that. We messaged back and forth last Saturday or so, saying ‘can’t wait to see you next week.’ It’s going to be good,’ said Blake Martinez.

While Martinez does have a good relationship with the Panthers rising star, he also recognizes the steps McCaffrey has taken in just the past three years.

“I think he’s done everything he needed to get stronger, faster, understanding the scheme. Obviously they have a great scheme for him, and he makes play.s He’s obviously an explosive player. Since I ever met him I knew he was going to be a special player,” said Martinez.

The Packers run defense will no doubt be tested this week against Carolina. For the most part it’s been their Achilles heel this season. That’s after giving up 127 yards a game on the ground, combined with ten touchdowns.

This past Sunday was no different for Green Bay against the Chargers. Allowing a team that was trying to find it’s way on the ground to rack up 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“I mean we looked at the film and it was literally just understanding gap fits. Guys swimming outside or fitting outside, just alignment too. Lining up in A-B type situations, understanding where the blitz is coming from, where the slants are going, things like that that just would’ve allowed us to make plays in the run game and just being more physical,” said Martinez.

Stopping the run is a big part of the battle on Sunday, but Carolina has been efficient in the pass game as well. Kyle Allen stepped in for Newton in week three, and hasn’t missed a beat. Leading Carolina to a 5-1 record in the six games since taking over under center.

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