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Big Test for the Panthers

Sharon Thorsland
August 22, 2019 - 1:38 pm

The Panthers face off against the defending Super Bowl champs tonight, taking on the Patriots in Foxborough.  And it should be a great test.

The Pats are coming off their third title in the past five years, and once again look to be one of the top teams in the league.

“They’re a great team and they’re going to come out and compete for four quarters,” said Panther receiver Chris Hogan, who played four seasons with New England. “Preseason, regular season, whatever it is, they’re competitors.  It’s going to be a great game.”

As usual, it's the seemingly ageless Tom Brady running the Patriots offense.  

At 42 years old, the 14-time Pro Bowler is showing no signs of slowing down.  

But this year he’s missing one of his favorite targets since tight end Rob Gronkowski retired. 

But don't feel too sorry for Brady – he's got plenty of talent remaining.

Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is back, and the Pats also signed veterans Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon, although neither is expected to play tonight. 

Keep an eye out for former NC State standout Jakobi Meyers, he’s been having an awesome preseason.  

Sony Michel heads the Patriots’ rushing attack, which also features James White and Rex Burkhead.  They’ve also got a promising rookie in former Alabama standout Damien Harris.

Cam Newton will make his preseason debut and he’ll do it against a Patriots defense that allowed just 20 points per game last season, that was seventh in the league.  

They’ve added former Eagle Michael Bennett and All-Pro linebacker Jamie Collins.  The strength of the Patriots defense is it's secondary, which is deep and talented. 

They’ve got Pro Bowlers at corner and safety in former Gamecock Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty. “They have some playmakers,” said Panther receiver Torrey Smith. “You know it’s a very solid secondary and a challenge for us.”

This game is a tune-up for the regular season, with the starters all expected to play at least a few series. Tonight is the chance to put everything together, and Panther coach Ron Rivera is looking forward to seeing how his squad stacks up. 

“They’re the gold standard, and you want to go out and see just how good you are,” said Rivera.  “It really is a good measuring stick as to who we can be as a football team.

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