Target on Ryan
The Panthers harassed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the first meeting, sacking him seven times in Atlanta’s 30-28 win. The total tied a Panthers’ record and was the most allowed by Atlanta in Ryan’s five seasons. After the game, Fox cameras caught Ryan yelling: “Get the (expletive) off the field!” Several Panthers’ players said they haven’t forgotten Ryan’s comment and planned to make him pay. Defensive end Greg Hardy vowed to put Ryan “on the ground … where he belongs.” Buckle up.
Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura was the goat in the Week 4 matchup, allowing Roddy White to get behind him for a 59-yard catch in the final minute to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal. That play – and others like it – prompted the Panthers to give Nakamura a part-time role. But with free safety Sherrod Martin on injured reserve and strong safety Charles Godfrey questionable with a back injury, Nakamura figures to be in the middle of the action. If Ryan doesn’t pick on Nakamura, look for him to go after rookie safety D.J. Campbell.
Cam catching on
Quarterback Cam Newton has accounted for eight touchdowns with no turnovers over the past three games, and is responsible for 12 touchdowns and two turnovers over the past five. Newton is making better decisions, and coaches are giving him more freedom to make pre-snap checks and audibles. Newton, 0-3 vs. the Falcons, would love to beat his hometown team. Joseph Person