It's a talent-rich roster the Panthers are sporting nowadays. Gone are the joys of facing Jimmy Clausen and scores of no-name wide receivers. Now featuring a defense with defensive linemen Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei and linebacker Luke Kuechly, along with quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers are defending NFC-South champions for a reason.
If only the Steelers could just borrow a player or two. If they could, who would it be?
In a flash, a heartbeat and an instant, it has to be Kuechly. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is one of the most complete players in the NFL. He can dominate at the line of scrimmage in run support as well as in coverage downfield. He's off to a big start again this season, as expected, and he'll probably make a pretty significant impact when the Steelers head to Charlotte for their Week 3 matchup on Sunday Night Football.
I was a big fan of Lotulelei coming out of Utah in 2013, and he's growing into a dominant defensive player. Short is perhaps even better so far, currently grading out as the second-best tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Newton looked sharp in Carolina's 24-7 win over Detroit Sunday after missing Week 1 with a rib injury. The Panthers have been working on him diligently to round him out as a passer as well as a runner, and the rib injury limited his running ability only somewhat, but maybe just enough to force him to rely on his considerable arm strength. He put together a phenomenal second half, and the Panthers rolled the Lions.
The Steelers thought enough of ex-Panthers safety Mike Mitchell to give him a five-year contract in free agency, so perhaps there's something the Steelers are liking about this Panthers defense. Liking it in the off-season, at least. Odds are good they won't enjoy it much on Sunday.