Pressure could be coming from all angles when the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers meet Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
For Saints quarterback Jameis Winston, he has been under duress at times from pass rushes, resulting in numerous miscalculations.
For the Panthers, there’s building tension surrounding their lack of success to start the season, leaving them desperate for a win.
Nothing else might matter for head coach Matt Rhule, who has come under increasing scrutiny.
“Until we win, nobody wants to hear me talk about (my outlook on the team),” Rhule said. “We want to go win a football game.”
Sunday’s contest begins a three-game homestand for the Panthers (0-2), who’ve lost twice on game-winning field goals of more than 50 yards.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is still seeking his first victory with the Panthers. He joined the team in the offseason.
“Nobody is hitting the panic button yet,” Mayfield said. “It also helps that we’ve lost by a total of five points.”
The Saints (1-1) will be playing their third game against an NFC South rival. After beating the Atlanta Falcons, they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Winston, who’s coping with an ailing back, has thrown three interceptions and has been sacked 10 times.
“I have to do a better job of executing third downs, and I can’t give them the football,” Winston said. “So we’re going to get back to the drawing board and I’m going to protect the football. That’s the big thing.”
Andy Dalton is Winston’s backup, but there haven’t been indications that Winston won’t be ready for Sunday’s game.
If the Saints remain turnover prone, that might be just the break Carolina’s defense needs. The Panthers are the only team in the NFL without a takeaway this season. New Orleans has committed six turnovers.
“We are going to just keep hitting the drawing boards, keep on building the chemistry of this offense,” Winston said. “We got great playmakers.”
New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen said an overhaul in general strategy isn’t needed. He said the Saints might need to show more patience at times.
“We’re making the corrections and adjustments we need to make,” Allen said.
New Orleans has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in rushing in both games. The passing attack has produced 252.5 yards per game, though that’s better than Carolina’s 190 average.
Running back Alvin Kamara, who missed the Tampa Bay game because of injured ribs, was back at practice Wednesday. His status remains unclear.
The Saints should have cornerback Marshon Lattimore available after his disqualification last week against Tampa Bay. He wasn’t handed an additional penalty.
The New Orleans secondary, though, could be without safety Marcus Maye, who’s dealing with a rib injury even though he was at Wednesday’s practice in a limited role.
Carolina’s defensive backfield could be impacted if cornerback Donte Jackson (hamstring) isn’t at full strength. He was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice and is expected to be a game-time decision.
The Saints hold a 29-26 series edge against Carolina, winning nine of the last 11 meetings. Last September, the Panthers won 26-7 in Charlotte when Winston was 11-for-22 with two interceptions before New Orleans avenged the loss later in the season at home.
“They look so much the same,” Rhule said of the Saints. “It’s a really veteran team. A lot of players whose names you know. It’s not a far departure from the team we played last year.”
–Field Level Media
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