CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Allen will make his second straight start Sunday when the Panthers visit the Houston Texans.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera wasted no time Monday ruling out quarterback Cam Newton for a second straight game due to a lingering mid-foot sprain. Rivera said there is "no timetable" for Newton's return and that the 2015 league MVP will continue to receive treatment.
Newton originally hurt his foot in Carolina's third preseason game and then aggravated the injury in a Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers. He has not practiced since.
Rivera gave no indication Newton would need surgery, instead saying that what the QB needs the most right now is rest.
Allen threw four touchdown passes in Carolina's 38-20 win over the Cardinals on Sunday, improving to 2-0 as an NFL starter. He was 19 of 26 passing for 261 yards and finished with a 144.4 QB rating, the second-best mark in franchise history.
He completed passes to seven different players, including two TD passes to tight end Greg Olsen and one each to wide receivers Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore.
"He had good command of what we were doing and spread the ball around, which is what I like to see because then you can't focus on one guy," Rivera said.
Rivera especially liked the way Allen responded after a fumble on the game's first drive.
"The one thing I have always said about Kyle that impresses me is he handles those things," Rivera said. "He's always cool. He's kind of aloof to things that happen and that he can't control. So he's always one of those guys that goes on to the next play."
After Sunday's game Allen downplayed his success.
"You do your job. That's what we've been preaching all week. You do your job," Allen said. "You don't have to do too much. When your number is called, make plays. ... Everyone, when their number was called, people made plays."
Rivera said when Newton is healthy he'll return to the starting lineup.
"He's our quarterback and he's who we rely on," Rivera said. "But for now we're going to stick with Kyle and we'll keep rolling and see how things unfold as we go forward."
But it's often difficult to bench a hot player, and if Allen continues to win it will make Rivera's decision more difficult down the road.
Rivera began using more 3-4 defensive fronts this year in hopes of generating more pass rush and takeaways. It took three weeks, but Rivera's plan came to fruition on Sunday when the Panthers sacked rookie Kyler Murray eight times and cornerback Donte Jackson intercepted him twice.
The Panthers used a few different alignments designed to confuse the inexperienced Murray and it worked. Six of the eight sacks were by outside linebackers - three by Mario Addison, two by Christian Miller and one by Brian Burns.
"I thought that the things we did with our coverage, our secondary handled it very well," Rivera said. "We mixed our coverages as much as we could, tried to give them different looks and confuse them a little bit."
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Admittedly, this is nitpicking a little bit after an otherwise dominant offensive performance against the Cardinals, but the Panthers could certainly stand to get off to some stronger starts. They have scored just three points in the first quarter this season.
Panthers 34-year-old tight end Greg Olsen is showing he's still a force after missing 16 games over the previous two seasons after twice breaking a bone in his foot. Some thought he might retire and pursue a career in broadcasting. Instead, Olsen has come back as strong as ever. Over the past two games, Olsen has 185 yards receiving on 12 receptions and two touchdowns, both of those coming against Arizona.
Daryl Williams is now being forced to split time at left tackle with rookie Greg Little, who has recovered from a concussion. Williams, who is trying to bounce back from a torn ACL that sidelined him last season, lost his full-time gig after allowing sacks on back-to-back plays against the Buccaneers in Week 2. Rivera was non-committal about what the Panthers will do moving forward, but it's pretty clear Little figures into those plans either as a platoon player or starter.
Panthers right guard Trai Turner got his ankle rolled up on against Arizona and his status moving forward remains uncertain. The Panthers will also be monitoring previous injuries to defensive tackle Kawann Short (shoulder), outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and safety Rashaan Gaulden (neck), all of whom missed Sunday's game.
188 - Total yards from scrimmage for Christian McCaffrey, who may be the best back in the league now that Saquon Barkley is hurt. McCaffrey continues to impress as a multi-threat running back, ripping off a career-long, backbreaking 76-yard TD run against the Cardinals. McCaffrey is averaging 150 yards per game from scrimmage with three touchdowns.
The Panthers beat the winless Cardinals, but now must show they can handle a potential playoff team like the Texans (2-1) on the road. If the Panthers can win, they have a manageable couple of games against the Jaguars (home) and Buccaneers (in London) before the bye week, making a 4-2 start a possibility.
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