CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bryce Young will make his home debut for the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Monday when his team hosts Derek Carr and the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South showdown.
Young didn't exactly light the league on fire in his NFL debut, completing 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 24-10 Week 1 loss to the Falcons.
How Young responds to a national showcase at home will be a huge storyline on Monday Night Football, and Locked on Panthers host Julian Council laid out three keys to a victory for Carolina in Week 2.
1. Protect Bryce Young
Carolina's offensive line wasn't too bad against Atlanta in Week 1, but starting right guard Austin Corbett is still on the PUP list and left guard Brady Christensen is out for the year with a biceps injury, meaning Young will be protected by a pair of backups up front.
The guards being out likely impacts the run game in a significant way, but the rest of the line will need to step up to keep Young on his feet throughout this contest, especially against a stout New Orleans frontline.
2. Avoid giving up chunk plays in the air
Speaking of injuries, Carolina also lost starting cornerback Jaycee Horn to the IR, meaning they'll go into a matchup against New Orleans relying on CJ Henderson and Troy Hill to handle most of the snaps on the outside. That's a tough ask against a Saints receiver group that includes Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Rashid Shaheed - and how Carolina defends against the deep ball on the outside will be critical in their ability to stay in this game.
3. Establish the passing game
The wide receiver group for Carolina was effectively a non-factor against Atlanta in Week 1, with tight end Hayden Hurt (41) and running back Miles Sanders (26) leading the team in receiving yards.
DJ Chark is listed as questionable as of this writing, and getting him back and a bounce back from either Adam Thielen (two reeptions, 12 yards) or Laviska Shenault (two receptions, 16 yards) would be a huge boost for Young and the Panthers gonig forward this season, and is necessary for them to pull off a victory in their home opener.