Green Bay Packers: 5 Things to Watch for Against the Carolina Panthers

Sam Tastad@@samtastadCorrespondent IIISeptember 16, 2011

Aaron Rodgers had no Super Bowl hangover in Week 1 against New Orleans.
Aaron Rodgers had no Super Bowl hangover in Week 1 against New Orleans.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers are 1-0 heading into the 0-1 Carolina Panthers' Bank of America Stadium, and there is high expectation in Green Bay, and hope in Carolina.

The Panthers got a strong, 422-yard outing out of Cam Newton in Week 1, and a strong performance from Steve Smith. However, they lost Jon Beason for the season to a torn Achilles tendon.

Meanwhile, the Packers offense clicked on all cylinders in their 42-34 rout of the New Orleans Saints. However, the defense gave up a lot of points. They certainly will have people's eyes on them to see if they can be dominant again, like last year, when they helped Aaron Rodgers win the Super Bowl.

Here are five things to watch for in the matchup between the Packers and the Panthers. 

1. Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers offense looked awfully good last Thursday night, especially Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw three touchdowns in the first quarter that gave the Packers a 21-7 lead.

The Packers wouldn't trail in the game. Rodgers finished 27-of-35 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and a 132.1 passer rating. 

Rodgers hit nine different receivers. Could this be another special season for the Packers signal caller?

The key for Rodgers is to start fast and never look back again this week.

2. Which Running Back Shines the Most? 

In Week 1 against the Saints, James Starks outperformed Ryan Grant, who started the game. Starks had 12 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Grant had nine carries for 40 yards.

Starks looked like he's got bigger and stronger, and was the beast at running back for the Packers.

You can't forget about John Kuhn, either. Kuhn completes the Packers three-headed running game.

Grant will probably start again this week, but there's no question that there is running back controversy in Green Bay. That being said, it is better to have three solid running backs than no running game.

3. Stop Cam Newton

Cam Newton had 422 yards and three touchdowns last week. Two were in the air and the other was on the ground. 

Did anyone see that coming from the young, emerging star? Perhaps no one but Panthers fans—maybe not even them. 

The key is to get pressure on Newton, who was sacked four times last week against Arizona.

It will be up to Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji and the linebackers' pass rush. I am sure Dom Capers will bring plenty of it during the course of the game. 

4. Will Tramon Williams Play?

Cornerback Tramon Williams bruised his shoulder last week against the Saints and did not practice on Wednesday or Friday.

Williams is a big-time playmaker in the secondary and is key to the Packers pass defense.

If Williams cannot go, Sam Shields will likely start and that wouldn't be bad, either.

5. Can Clay Matthews Get Back into Beast Mode?

After a monstrous rookie and 2010 season, Clay Matthews had a rather quiet game.

Having said that, he did have four tackles and hit the quarterback twice in the course of the game. 

The Saints didn't let Matthews get to Brees. Let's hope Matthews can get to Newton a few times on Sunday.


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