SPARTANBURG, SC - AUGUST 03: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stands next to head coach Ron Rivera during training camp at Wofford College on August 3, 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Carolina Panthers will be heading to Glendale this weekend for a week one matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. With them, they bring a lot of youth and a completely new team, one that was destroyed and then reconstructed over the summer. Carolina does have a few holdovers from 2010, but how they fare this season will come down to the play of the new guys, namely rookie quarterback, Cam Newton.
Arizona needs to beat a young and upcoming team like this in order to show that they can retake the NFC West division crown. However, creating a plan to beat the Panthers may take more time and effort than you would think.
Seth Pollack from SB Nation Arizona had a chance to catch up with some of the players after Monday's practice. When talking to Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes, the veteran had this to say:
"Whenever you get to the first game of the season it's always an unknown, especially with a new head coach coming in...We know with Cam (Newton) that it's going to be a little bit more simplified so we'll probably approach it that way."
In the interview, Rhodes also stated that they would really start getting into the tape on Wednesday to prepare for Carolina. But when looking at the film, it will be somewhat difficult to pick up on Carolina's tendencies.
The Panthers have a new head coach in Ron Rivera, so knowing how a person is going to run their team will not be a strength the Cardinals have going into this game. Also, seeing some of the plays that Carolina ran during their four preseason games will only have a limited effect.
Like every other team, the Panthers are going to play a pretty "vanilla" style of offense during the preseason. What that means is that any sort of trick plays or different styles the Panthers may employ will not be on the tape. For a veteran team, it could be different as they could have used some of these plays in prior seasons.
Larry Fitzgerald did mention that the team has looked at some film of the Chargers, where Ron Rivera was once the defensive coordinator. This could give them an advantage into knowing what type of coverages the opposing defense will utilize, but it does not help in knowing how their offense will run.
Basically, the Cardinals have to be ready for anything on Sunday. We know Cam Newton is a rookie and that Arizona as recently as last year played a number one pick rookie quarterback and did fairly well against him. Becoming complacent is not something the Cards can afford to do.
Planning for the unknown is a weird thing, but given all of the new players on this Cardinals squad, Carolina may be doing the same thing too. Arizona will have to rely on veteran knowledge and instincts if they want to take home the victory.
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